Why I Chose A Swiss Grandfather

August 9, 2013 1 comment
I have in my possession, the following original typed article which was written by Edith M. Fisher, (circa about 1945).  Any reprint or use of any of this work must properly cite Edith M. Fisher/Faulstich’s name as the original author. The article includes a photograph of a very young Edith (“Dee”) Fisher with a caption: “Internationally know philatelic writer and an ardent collector of stamps and covers of Switzerland”
A hand-scribbled note on the top of a photocopy of the news article: “Thought maybe you’d like this re “ancestors” to pen (into the) baby book. ~ Mom

Why I Picked A Swiss Grandfather

Being on good behavior has its compensation in heaven the same on earth. I remember a time way back, about the middle of the last century, up in the never, never land.

I’d been on pretty good behavior for quite awhile when one fine day, my Guardian Angel said to me, “I want you to study the countries of the Earth.

Because you have been good, I’ll let you pick out the one where you think you’d like to live. In about three score years from now I’m going to send you down to Earth for one lifetime.

“Countries change so, how will I know what they will be like in the next century? I queried. “That’s a good question,” said my Guardian Angel, “no country is any better than the people in it,  or their ideals, and ideas. Rather, pick a man who will one day be your grandfather. Pick him for the country that is his background now and be satisfied to let the future bring what it may.”

Picking out a Grandfather from a country whose ideals were impressionable was a tall order. I thought I would never finish studying the countries of the Earth until one day I came upon Switzerland.

To me, it was the most beautiful of all countries that I had viewed. But we had been taught that is beauty is sometimes only skin deep. Perhaps, I thought the beautiful sky-pointed Alps, the profusion of wildflowers below the snow-capped mountains, the lakes, the quaint Swiss houses, the cleanliness and preciseness of the towns was only a thing of beauty. Perhaps, the people were not as fine as the beautiful countryside; but I determined to find out.

First, I studied the background of Switzerland and found to my delight that it was the oldest democracy in the world, in ancient days it was called “Helvetica.” Like most European countries, Helvetica went through its primitive period, with its domination by Imperial Rome. But, one day chosen delegates from the three countries of Uri, Schwyz and Unterwalden, formed a political and military alliance to maintain independence against the Duke of Austria. This was on August 1, 1291. Through the centuries that followed, August 1st remained a Swiss National Holiday, because the document formed then contains ever the principle of its later constitution, even the one that governs Switzerland today. The document is called the Deed of the Confederation and is what dates Switzerland as the world’s oldest Democracy. Before another century had rolled around, five more Cantons were added by various treaties and Switzerland was hailed as a European power.

I studied this background reverently, and thought, “those people must have what it takes.” In a small territory, hemmed in by antagonistic larger countries, that had the determination and the fortitude to establish their independence.

Studying Switzerland’s background further, I found that she had suffered several centuries of hardships. The Reformation took its toll and subsequent internal political dissension weakened the little democracy, and I found myself worrying for her—forgetting that I was studying history that had already been written. Then I came upon the last part of the 18th century when the roar of the French Revolution rolled across the Alps and for the first and only time overturned the Confederation. The period of 1798-1804 was known as the Helvetica Period, I learned.

But, I saw that the Swiss were not to accept the new arrangement—although it took them until 1815 to restore the confederation. By that time, the twenty-two Cantons of which still make up the country had formed the Confederation and the system of the Cantonal sovereignty set up then and still exists today in a circle of Federal Union.

So much for background history, Switzerland inspired me, next I wondered about her achievements artistically. It didn’t take much study to find that their famous Abbey of St. Gall, laid down 1,200 years ago, was a hearthstone of the Arts in the middle of a barbarous Europe; that Calvin had founded the Geneva Academy of Arts in 1558 and that sculptors, painters, and musicians abounded in the little Democracy.

I saw the industries of the busy people of Switzerland, the herdsmen, the watch makers, the cheese and chocolate makers, and heard the happy peasants yodeling on the mountain sides, saw the St. Bernard dogs, beautiful, gentle, efficient. I read about the William Tell and his apple and was impressed. I got a fleeting glimpse into the future and say that this little country would be the seat of the Universal Postal Union, which would govern the mail service of the World.

By this time, it was quite apparent to me that Switzerland was as great a country as it was beautiful. I was convinced of its beauty, of its history, even of its aesthetic side. But, no truly great country can be great unless its people have compassion. Were there any great men or women in this beautiful spot that sacrificed their lives and their finances to help their fellow man? I didn’t have to go very far to find such names as Johann Pestalozzi, whose love of children and personal sacrifice for them, became a symbol of guidance to other countries throughout the world and of Jean Henri Dunsant, young man of a wealthy Zurich family, who devoted his life to helping the afflicted, who reduced himself to a state of poverty to help those in need, who founded the International Red Cross Society, which today has spanned to the four corners of the Globe, with its humanitarian program.

I felt numb with happiness. I felt sure that I had found the country that I wanted my Grandfather to come from. I sat down on my crossed legs and hummed softly, I looked down again into Switzerland, and as I did I suddenly saw a young boy walking the street of Schaffhausen. I heard my Guardian Angel say softly, “Have you made up your mind?’ Yes, I said, “I want a Swiss Grandfather.” She pointed to the young man in Schaffhausen and said, “Some day along about sixty years from now he will be your grandfather.”

I looked again, and heard the young boy, Conrad Bollinger was his name, saying Good-bye to his friends for he was leaving for America. I jumped up quickly. “But, he’s going to America,” I said to the Angel.

“That’s right” she answered, “there’s a new county over there—it needs the best that the rest of the world can give so that it can grow. Your Grandfather will have the ideas and ideals of the oldest democracy in the world as he establishes his home and family in a new democracy, which is trying to get over it’s growing pains.”

I must have fallen off to sleep then and it was some thirty years later when I awakened. I looked down again and this time I saw America. It took no time to find the young Conrad, but was much older now. He had fought in the American Civil War and was working for the Government of the United States.

My Guardian Angel appeared again, “Now,” she said, you can even see your mother.”

I looked carefully until I saw four children in their teens, three girls and a boy. They are your Grandfather’s children,” said my Guardian Angel, “the second from the youngest—Margaret is her name—will someday be your Mother.”

I rocked and hummed again, I felt good. I wondered if I would look a little like Margaret when I became an earthly child.  I thought, who could have picked out a better country than America in all this world, with a better background than one stemming from Switzerland. In fact, I felt pretty lucky. I had already seen both my Grandfather and my mother.

Again, I must have fallen asleep and the next thing I knew I woke up in Flatbush, Brooklyn, New York in the United States of America and someone said, “It’s a girl”

Note #1: August 9, 2013.

I am Alice Margaret Fisher. I was named after my grandmother and great grandmother Margaretha Bollinger. I am the granddaughter of Edith Margaret Fisher/Faulstich. I am the great-great-granddaughter of Conrad Bollinger, from Beringen, Switzerland. I retyped this article, written by Edith Fisher more than 60 years earlier, and furthered the family lineage into our Swiss ancestry as a result of her early work.

Our Swiss grandfather’s family now dates back to Hans George Bollinger, Born about 1588.

I am proud of this rich history and our deep roots.  As a result, when I completed a study abroad to Europe in 1994, and thereafter  I took my two young daughters with me and we traveled to Beringen, and Schaffhausen Switzerland.

We landed in Beringen on July 31, 1994,  it was my youngest daughter’s 12th birthday. We being the first to return as a direct line descendant of Conrad Bollinger. The village was exactly as my grandmother wrote, and they opened up the little museum and bought my girls an ice cream on Sunday pouring their history and lives out to us in earnest while we spoke a triangle of me with my broken French to the women in the village who then in turn spoke Swiss-German, to the Museum curator.

Note #2,  May 14, 2009
I’ve begun contributing to a Beringen, Switzerland History Project
on Wikipedia.com

With much pride and love to my Nana, you and your work will not be forgotten!
Alice Margaret Fisher


Edith Faulstich – A Communicator Before Her Time

April 2, 2013 3 comments

Edith Faulstich Fisher VanderPoel 4 1960





Washington, D.C.
In Candidacy for the Degree of Master of Arts

Researched and Written By:

Alice Margaret Fisher 


                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     I dedicate this biographical research project to Edith M. Faulstich and Susanne A. Roschwalb.  Two women communicators before their time, who despite their hardships continued to exhibit passion and total commitment to their “rose.”

My dear Nana, you pounded out the Siberian Sojourn to leave a legacy for the families of those forgotten soldiers from W.W.I. Your race against time and your model communication project will echo in my heart and the hearts of many for years to come. You are the source of my inspiration, the source of my drive and the source of my energy to succeed despite the frailties and injustices life presents.

Professor Roschwalb, you showed up in class at exactly 9:01 a.m. during your last fall at AU after being in the hospital all night with complications related to cancer (unbeknownst to our cohort, your last cohort to study under you). You graded our finals in your final weeks, made personal hand written comments to each of us. Your professional model of communication goes beyond the call of duty and stands as a legacy to me about what it means to be a true communicator despite the fragility life presents.

My mentors, you departed this world before I could fully benefit from your vast knowledge and life experiences. I am hungry to know more about what makes one a successful public communicator and about your life-long accomplishments. I am wiser from your quiet messages through example, commitment and passion. You are, and always will be with me.

Your models of communication resonate louder and longer than words ever will. You have become the wind beneath my wings. I will move forward with your examples in my heart. Some of Edith M. Faulstich’s articles and her book, The Siberian Sojourn are being compiled and reformatted. Her other works and some old photographs are also being formatted for placement on the Internet. They will be available in the near future (Author’s NOTE: Please see the other content within this blog)

a.m.f. 5/1998


In preparation for this biography, degree, and course work, I had to enlist the support and dedication of my children, Steven, Angela and Johanne. I asked for their commitment so that we could move forward together as a family. As a family, we have lost much time together and we all know what it is like to start over again and again. We all know what it is like to work very hard for the betterment of the whole family.

Thank you from the bottom of a mom’s heart. I really know what a sacrifice of hours you have made and all those missed Saturdays which have passed us by. This has been an education and a degree for all of us, and for our future.

Thanks kids–for we have truly gained more than we thought we had lost.

Thanks to Robert E. Ligon III (Buddy) for being the cheering section I needed and for driving my kids around to places so that I could have a few precious hours on the computer. Thanks for your encouragement to me personally on a daily and weekly basis and at three in the morning sometimes.

Thanks to Donald H. and Frankie A. Fisher, my parents. I am where I am because of your examples and those early childhood work ethics. I still have not forgotten all the grass we had to cut, barns we had to clean, cows we had to chase from neighbor’s gardens and the wheel-barrow loads of peas we had to shell. You often said, “Hard work never killed anyone,” and I love you for those words today.

Hard work has become my friend, helping me move forward amid this personal race against the odds and against time. I now prepare to move forward, in this race and beyond.


Chapter I: Introduction………………………………1

Statement of Purpose ……………………………………………….1
Study Significance………………………………………………….2
Study Limitations…………………………………………………..3
Study Overview……………………………………………………..4

Chapter II: Faulstich Her Life and Work …………..6

Dee’s Younger Years…………………………………………………6
From Poverty to Journalism…………………………………………..8
From Journalism to Siberia ………………………………………….13
From Siberia to President………………………………………….. 22
Dee’s Commitment to a Cause………………………………………….28

Chapter III: Conclusion……………………………..31


I : Introduction

In his renowned story, The Little Prince, Antoine de Saint-Exupery said, “C’est le temps que tu as perdu pour ta rose qui fait ta rose si importante. Les hommes ont oublies cette verite.” This quote is literally translated as, “It is the time you have spent for your rose that has made your rose so important. Men have forgotten this truth”(Saint-Exupery, p 87).

By completely devoting most of her available time to philately, Edith M. Faulstich successfully moved beyond the social stigma of divorce, beyond poverty, and sexism in a race against time.

Racing against time, Faulstich became the first philatelic woman journalist, first woman author about WWI’s Siberian Expedition in Russia, and the first woman president and communication manager of any philatelic organization. Faulstich implemented a dynamic multiplicity of factors to operate as a journalist, a persuasive communicator, a research expert, an editor, an author, a communication manager, and the first women president of the Postal History Society.

In the end, Faulstich raced to communicate against the ravages of time for philately, for the lives of the forgotten soldiers who were left in Siberia and finally she raced against time for her own life.

Statement of Purpose

This paper presenting Faulstich will demonstrate that through journalism and public communication she used a multiplicity of communication factors such as journalism, extensive research, profound knowledge, communication management skills and a relentless commitment to a cause, to become a successful international public communicator for philately. But above all, she passionately gave of her personal time.

Study Significance

Journalism history, public communication history, and scholars have yet to study and recognize the multiplicity of journalism and communication management skills Faulstich possessed.

She functioned with only a high school education and accomplished multiple professional public relation practices that preceded today’s formal training and public communication theories. Her work is significant enough to assure her a well deserved place in journalism and public communication history even though such recognition has not yet been granted.

This study is also significant because she was able to obtain journalism work. It was difficult to get journalism work in the 1940s, 1950s, and 1960s.

“Through the late 1940s, 1950s, and into the 1960s, the same kind of woman who had been welcomed at the city desk in wartime couldn’t get past the front desk. Some of the men who blocked their way merely mirrored the views of the day. Women’s place was in the home; the newsroom was no place for a lady. . . . . Newspapers rarely hired women” (Mills, 65).

There have been numerous and specific communication studies about women, women as minorities, barriers to women’s success, women’s roles, gender, discrimination, comparative intelligence studies and factors that hinder women’s professional success.

There has been a great deal of successful discussions about the pros and cons of how women are treated differently. Additionally, there have been studies about differences in professional positions, professional advancement, salary differences, glass ceilings and the positions assigned to developing female and male communicators. This study is significant because the focus is on Faulstich’s success and contributions rather than the factors that hindered her progress as a woman.

Likewise, little has been reported on what communication factors contribute to personal success as a communicator. Hence, a large void in the public communication field has developed from not recognizing Faulstich’s contributions to journalism and public communication and what facilitated her work as a philatelic communicator.

Furthermore, this study is important and significant because it will demonstrate that despite obstacles, Faulstich was successful as a journalist and public communicator.

Study Limitations

As with any research, many expansive aspects from an original concept about what constitutes success before one’s time may emerge during the research process. Furthermore, this study recognizes the heated debates of feminist and gender issues in women’s successes, failures, and/or injustices. One can speculate that if this presentation and research is aligned with one or more minority groups, it may incite certain opposing reactions. Some theorists relate poverty, gender and activism with success or failure. This study focuses on the communication aspects relative to Edith M. Faulstich the person, and the dynamic multiplicity of communication skills that added to her success as a model journalist and public communicator.

This project is limited to the fact that there may not be any similar studies examining the multiplicity of communication skills used by Faulstich. This research is limited in that there may be relatively few, if any, successful women journalists and public communicators in similar avocations who had an impact on so many people with such far reaching communication results.

Although this study touches on philately and W.W.I., this study will not address these topical subjects in extensive detail nor will it analyze broadcast media. Future research may warrant comparative studies of other successful nontraditional public communicators who used a multiplicity of journalism and public communication skills, without formal training.

Study Overview

This paper consists of three chapters. Chapter one includes the introduction, statement of purpose and objectives, study significance and study limitations. Chapter two presents Edith M. Faulstich: her younger years, her journalism, her research work about the Siberian Expedition, her presidential term for the Postal History Society and her commitment to a cause. This chapter also looks at what it was about Faulstich that lent to her successfully managing public communication through her journalism skills, her research skills, her profound knowledge about postal history, her management of public communication, her strengths, her weaknesses and suggestions for further research.

Chapter three will present a conclusion culminating the high points of this study demonstrating Faulstich, with recommendations for future research.

II: Faulstich and Her Work

This chapter presents Edith M. Faulstich: her younger years, her journalism, her research work about the Siberian Expedition, her presidential years for the Postal History Society and her commitment to a cause.

Dee’s Younger Years

Edith M. Vanderpoel was born on May 22, 1907. As a child, she came “from a very upper-middle class family.” The generations before her had owned some large homes and property, as well as several saw mills on the Hudson River (Map of Kinderhoock, 1686). She had it all as a child and the family lost it all. She regained her family’s prominence and her wealth through her journalism and public communication (author’s interview, no. 1, 1995).

As a child she developed the nick name “Dee.” The development and transformation of the name came from her Swiss-German grandfather, Conrad Bollinger. When ever he tried to pronounce Edith it always came out “Edit.” It sounded like he was always saying eat it. To avoid embarrassment he began calling her Dee. Throughout her life she was known as Dee.

One occurrence appears to have become a pivotal point in Faulstich’s life. Faulstich knew she was intelligent and despite what others thought, she was not a quitter. At Park Ridge High School in 1925, Edith had enrolled in Mr. Smerber’s tenth-grade geometry class. It was not that she needed the class to graduate, but all her friends were in the class. She was a very social person, but be it known, Edith was not a flighty person by nature and always gave her best at any given task. Part way through the geometry course, Faulstich realized she and math did not mix. Never having done so before and after considerable deliberation, she asked to withdraw from the class. Mr. Smerber brought her up from her wooden desk to the front of the class and stood her up on top of the platform where his desk reigned. Before the entire class of 25 students, Mr. Smerber proclaimed that she was a quitter, a looser and that she would never amount to anything” (author’s interview, no. 1, 1995).

Despite the embarrassing incident in front of her classmates she graduated from high school in 1927. Later in her life, this incident would become the opening remarks of a speech she would make to a large philatelic audience in southern New Jersey.

Due to the death of her father, Faulstich was unable to go to college but took a secretarial course. “She married at the age of 20 and had two sons” (Deutch, 2). Her married name became Edith M. Fisher. By the early 1940s, she was a divorced woman alone with two sons to support” (author’s interview, no. 1, 1995).

Faulstich faced many personal and financial trials as a single parent. Divorce in those days caused a quite a social stigma. Also, it was a man’s world and the only professions open to women during those early years were teaching or nursing. Women were not often afforded the opportunity to attend college. Instead, they generally held menial tasks as receptionists, secretaries and stenographers.

Faulstich started out as a stenographer and it did not make her happy. But the job brought in money to feed her children. Women were not very involved with factory work (author’s interview, no. 1, 1995). Faulstich lived behind a house in a garden bungalow, daily she traveled to the city, by rail, to work as a stenographer. She earned forty dollars a week, twenty-eight dollars per month went for traveling costs into the city. She worked from seven in the morning until six at night. She had a difficult time working long hours for little pay, overcoming financial difficulties and raising two children by herself (author’s interview, no. 1, 1995).

Faulstich had a great deal of emotional resilience. Faulstich “had what they called in those days, ‘moxie'”(author’s interview, no. 1,1995). Moxie is a slang term that defines the capacity to confront obstacles and difficulties with spirit; courage and guts (American Heritage Desk Dictionary, 1981, p. 631). She had a proactive inclination to respond purposefully to existing problems or events.

Purposefully, Faulstich started stamp collecting as a hobby with her sons. In the beginning, it was a way for Faulstich and her children to do something together. It was a good way to spend some precious quality time together.

Faulstich “had a ‘yen,’ a longing, to write” and she was not a shy person (authors interview no. 1, 1995). In the beginning with her philatelic work, Faulstich wanted to know how people communicated before preprinted governmental stamps, before 1840. She then wanted to promote and increase awareness about the value and need for postal history.

Additionally, there were several intangible elements about Faulstich that were also an integral part of her work. The intangibles were her emotional passion and the personal time she invested in philately which lent to her success. She was genuinely interested in people and how postal history affected people. The human component was very important to her.

From Poverty to Journalism

As a journalist, Faulstich was able to succeed quite well as an advocate for philately in an all male work force and an all male philatelic organization.

In the mid 1940s Faulstich found her place in the news and newspapers did hire her during the 1940s, 1950s and into the 1960s. She went to the Bergen Evening Record /The Record and talked to the editor. Faulstich persuaded the editor to begin printing a stamp column because of the large number of stamp collectors and stamp clubs in the local area. She presented her facts and findings and effectively convinced the editor that there was a vast interest in philately (authors interview no. 1, 1995).

Bergen County had about one-half million residents. There were numerous stamp clubs, including the Pascack Stamp Club in Park Ridge, New Jersey. There was a need to inform philatelists about the value of postal history (authors interview no. 1, 1995).

Copies of her articles from The Record show that Faulstich wrote about new stamp releases throughout the world. One particular article printed on November 10, 1949 discussed two forth coming stamps being released by the Irish Government. In her article, “Two Specials Announced by Republic of Ireland,” she discussed the release date, and how the stamp would serve to preserve the official commemoration of Ireland becoming recognized as a Republic, on Easter Monday. Faulstich also discussed Muriel Brandt, the well known artist who designed the stamp. Faulstich concluded her article by providing information about local club news for various clubs (The Record, Paul Wilder, Librarian, March 18, 1997).

In her November 5, 1949 article for The Record she wrote news about an election, “Bergen Philatelists, Inc. Elect Siccardi President,” (The Record, Paul Wilder, Librarian, March 18, 1997). On another occasion she wrote about the release of an Australian stamp recognizing the exploration work of Lord John Forrest of Bunbury, Australia. Faulstich recounts Forrest’s accomplishments as a surveyor telling about his travels, discoveries and the maps he drew of Australia (The Record, Paul Wilder, Librarian, March 18, 1997).

The Bergen column was so successful that she then persuaded the Newark Sunday News editor to create and print a stamp column. “Like ‘Topsey’, it just bloomed” (authors interview no. 1, 1995).

In 1947 Faulstich began writing on philatelic subjects regularly, an association which lasted more than two decades” (Deutch, 1973). The former The Newark Sunday News regularly ran her articles in section A. Every week the newspaper ran a “World Stamp News” column written by Faulstich (Library of Congress, The Newark Sunday News, call number: newspaper 7002). One of her articles printed in the July 2, 1967 edition discussed, “Three magnificent designs, reproducing famous British paintings…” that were issued by Great Britain on July 10, 1967.

She also elaborated on a local stamp show to be held in November 1967, and several other stamps that were forth coming. She then concluded with some interesting news. Normally all post offices are closed on the Fourth of July. But the Rome, New York post office would be open on the Fourth of July that year. The city was slated to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the ground breaking for the Erie Canal, which took place at Rome, July 4, 1817. Faulstich announced that ceremonies would include commemorative Erie Canal stamp sales and first day covers with special cancellation dates for each, the 8th U.S. Air Force Band and a congressional speaker (Library of Congress, The Newark Sunday News, call number: newspaper 7002, July 2, 1967).

She wrote until 1952 as Edith M. Fisher, this with The Newark Sunday News, and the Bergen Evening Record. She remarried in 1952, to Fred Faulstich. Hence from that time forward she was known as Edith M. Faulstich.

Moreover, her newspaper articles reflected the depth of her research skills and knowledge about many philatelic subjects. The following excerpt clearly shows salient details reflecting the depth of her philatelic knowledge and postal history.

From time immemorial the carriage of the mail and efforts toward speedy delivery have been the concern of man. Today, as we lick a manufactured gummed seal envelope, place a stamp on the upper right corner and mail the message, we are confident that barring an act of God, it will reach its destination safely and quickly and remain as private as when we sealed it. It is therefore, some-times hard to conjure up the problems our forefathers and theirs had, before there were any stamps, any gum, any envelopes-in fact before there was any organized mail delivery.

In earliest times man had to seek writing material. This was sometimes a leaf, or a stone, or the bark of a tree on which he drew pictures to convey a message. Thousands of years before Christ, clay tablets were baked and scribes, learned letter writers, were employed to inscribe the message in the clay which was baked until hard in the sun or in a kiln.

At first, there were crosses to signify the desire for safe carriage in the sight of God. Then threats began to be used. Along about the 15th and 16th centuries we find covers with hand drawn gallows signifying a dire threat, by hanging, to anyone who looted the mails or to any courier who failed to get the message to its destination, for the woods were full of footpads waiting to intercept the mail. A marking of “Cito” once, or repeated many times, indicated that great haste was required. Other words such as ‘subito,’ ‘presto’ and misspellings of ‘Cito’ are found on early                                           mail (Faulstich, 5-6).

Postage stamp printing began in 1840 and mail delivery routes developed around the 1870’s. Before the formal carriage of mail, letter carrying was primarily accomplished by a personal carrier.

Her journalism skills were not confined solely to philately. Furthermore, she used the multiplicity of journalism and communication management skills she processed to write about many other subjects which often focused on human interest themes. The diversity of her journalism work served her well so she could network deep within the local communities.

As a journalist and communicator Faulstich used her persuasive abilities. Faulstich conducted three famous interviews. The first was with the character who played Lamont Cranston. Cranston was the “Shadow” in the original radio show. “The Shadow” was developed in 1930.  The radio program ran from September 26, 1937, until December 26, 1954 (author’s interview no. 1, 1995).

The second interview was with Lauritz Melchior. Melchior was a leading German opera singer and stamp collector who granted but a few personal interviews during his lifetime (Lockhart, Kori, San Francisco Opera, 1997).

The third interview was with Jane Mansfield a famous actress from the 1940s and 1950s. In writing about her, Faulstich felt that Mansfield was a very intelligent and charming women (authors interview no. 1, 1995).

In the late 1940s and 1950s Faulstich wrote for the Westchester Life Magazine. In 1948 she wrote a whimsical article titled, “Why I Picked a Swiss Grandfather.” In 1955 she wrote, “From Our Portfolio, Elanor Gale,” a well-known ceramic sculptor who studied under the famous Winold Reiss. She also wrote about Amy Lee Jensen, author of the “Pony Express.”

Faulstich had a certain persuasive ability and she was a networker among people. “She could wiedle just about anything, without ever alienating others” (authors interview no. 1, 1995). She befriended all who came to know her. They knew her as a great people person.

As a people person, “Faulstich never posed a threat to the other men’s wives. She had an honorable sense of character, she was always a lady; never tried to make passes and she was always professional. Faulstich had a style of her own that brought her great deal of respect and honor from the community” (authors interview no. 1, 1995).

From Journalism to Siberia

Faulstich wanted to know how people communicated before stamps, especially before 1840. She first became interested in Swiss postal history and then general postal history. There was so much she could research about and communicate to others (authors interview no. 1, 1995).  She was extremely prolific in her writing.

Faulstich began researching and writing about postal history because government sponsored mail and stamps had become mundane to her. She always wanted to know why and how people did such-and-such. If she did not know why, she would research or find someone who knew. She wanted to communicate what she found and was intrigued about how to communicate her findings (authors interview no. 1, 1995).

In the mid 1950s Faulstich began to perform preliminary research about Siberian mail. It had been said to her in several conversations that few soldiers carried any mail back to the states. They were told to unload everything except what was absolutely necessary. These types of comments made for a tough assignment for any person doing research about Siberia.

Faulstich began researching and managing the Siberian Campaign in 1956 or 1957 and her “Saga of the Mails,” as she called it, expanded dramatically.

Faulstich wanted to know how the severely neglected and forgotten soldiers from the Siberian Campaign during WWI communicated. She learned that the soldiers communicated about this sorrowful part of history with their personal letters. Faulstich learned that few people knew about the atrocities these soldiers had endured. The best way to find out the truth about the atrocities was to locate the letters written by the soldiers themselves. Faulstich found a need to verbally communicate her factual findings related to the Siberian Campaign and postal history.

Faulstich found, through research, there were many American soldiers left in Siberia, after the end of WWI. These soldiers were called the Siberian American Expeditionary Forces,  Siberian A.E.F. Hardly anyone knew about these soldiers in Siberia or why they were there. Many men froze to death or died of other causes while in Siberia with their story untold and unrecorded in history books. Faulstich discovered Americans had not been told about these forgotten men. She wanted to communicate the real story about the soldiers.

Additionally, through her networking and her persuasive abilities, Faulstich obtained extensive supporting materials; military documents, letters, censor marks, postmarks, photos and personal diaries and letters of soldiers from WWI.

During her early research she learned many of the soldiers were still alive and dispersed all over the United States. She began by trying to compile a list of the survivors. Faulstich contacted an entire Army one by one. She began writing personal letters and visited the soldiers in person, to gain more knowledge about the campaign and to see if she could find any postal covers. Her research turned out to be a project that required a great deal of organization and thought. Hence her research became a very complex and a very involved endeavor that took up a great deal of her time.

In digging beneath the surface, Faulstich found that the mail from Siberia was considered scarce. The mail to Siberia was often overlooked by stamp collectors. She was told it would be very difficult to find any surviving mail. She said that many collectors researching for material overlooked the importance of associated material, or some unrecognized element that could be of use to postal-history research.

Faulstich saved all that she found regarding Siberia. She meticulously managed and kept all of her research work in cream colored file cabinets in her own home, lining the walls an entire room. Her research lasted fifteen years, resulting in many articles and a two-volume book about the soldiers in Siberia.

Her work and files are archived at Stanford University. Stanford University is noted for its extensive holdings related to Russian materials and research. Hoover Institute’s archivist, Carol Lendeham, said “most of the material I looked through were newspapers, newspaper clippings, and magazine issues in boxes nine and ten of Faulstich’s papers. They were all relating to the A.E.F., Russian Railway Service Corps, YMCA, etc. experiences in Siberia, including materials from groups made of up of veterans of those organizations” (Stanford University, Carol Leadenham,
leadenham@HOOVER. STANFORD.EDU, February 28, 1997).
Faulstich is listed in the 1996 Stanford University’s Hoover Institution Archive Holdings on the Soviet Union.
Her name is indexed on page 18, column two. Faulstich’s holdings are noted in the following manner.

Faulstich, Edith M., d. 1972, collector.
Collection, 1918-1975.
27 ms. Boxes, 18 envelopes, 7 oversize boxes.
[ID: CSUZ79068-A]

Summary: Diaries, letters, and reminiscences of members of the American Expeditionary Forces in Siberia, Reports, notes, printed matter, and photographs, relating to American military activities in Siberia during the
Russian Revolution.

Indexes: Preliminary inventory.

All materials in the 27 boxes are listed in alphabetical order, listing more than 327 separate categorical topics, people, diaries, mail or items related to the American military activities in Siberia.

She authored an article describing her research experience. She wrote about how she went passionately seeking for more knowledge of and about the Siberian Campaign. She visited the soldiers personally, she wrote and visited the United States War Department, she wrote articles in
journals encouraging response from others. Her personal involvement and the time committed to learning more led her to visiting the soldiers homes personally. She wrote amorously about her findings.

As her research flourished, Faulstich “wrote intellectually and passionately about the victims of the war” from her research (authors interview no. 1, 1995). She obtained and was given samples of letters, photos and diaries which provided fodder for her book and other journal articles. The
following excerpt shows some her excitement and commitment to her work.

In the course of my research for first-hand information over a period of years, I had occasion to write to the late Kenneth Roberts, the historian whose novels have stirred so many of us. He was most helpful with information but did not have a single cover either to or from Siberia. However he suggested that a Mr. Ralph Baggs might be able to help me. I lost no time in writing to Mr. Baggs, a former Lieutenant in the Siberian A.E.F., and a correspondence of several years ensued.

Nevertheless, through the years our association became friendly and when he retired to his New England home my husband and I were invited for a visit. We had a most enjoyable time and were fascinated by his stories of happenings in the land of ice and snow but our knowledge about postal
history was not enriched.

On another visit a year or so later, I asked him shamefacedly if he wouldn’t search the house for some Siberian memoirs. “Surely you must have something,” I said. Not a darned thing he replied in characteristic style, “Except maybe in the cellar–if I ever get to it and get the thing open, there might be some of my notes in an old trunk down there.”

A trunk! My heart leaped and I immediately recalled tales of finds in old attics and barns. Mr. Baggs assured me, however, that there would be no great find, if there was anything at all. He explained that this was an old trunk which was full of souvenirs and notes that he had acquired but that there would be nothing at all written by him. …Had no idea what happened to the letters he had sent to friends. “Burned,” I guess he said and laughed. . .Well he said, ‘maybe next time you come up.’

I waited a decorous few months before I requested another visit with him. ‘Come up when you can,’ he said on the telephone, ‘we are always glad to see you.’

‘And the trunk,’ I asked, may we look at it this time?’ His reply, ‘we’ll see,’ did not seem too encouraging. However, when I arrived at his lovely old farm house it was during a cloudburst and he said upon greeting me, “It’s too nasty to enjoy the porch today. Come on down to the cellar. A rainy
day is a good time to look at old trunks.”

…We poked around a bit and finally located the object of our search……After considerable banging and nudging the lid finally sprang open. Great heaps of miscellaneous material including letters, photos, college news and clips popped out like the contents of a jack-in-the-box.  I don’t believe they had seen daylight since Mr. Baggs returned from Siberia in 1919. It took hours of sorting to separate the letters.  Finally this was accomplished and I was offered all of the Siberian material.

…Meanwhile this preliminary one find must suffice as no other exists, to the best of my knowledge. Bear in mind, however, that this is based solely on letters to one man. As other covers are located the gaps may one day be closed. Such is the joy of research (The American Philatelic Congress
Book, 1963, pp. 130-132).

Faulstich’s core knowledge base distinguished her as an excellent communicator from being a less than excellent communicator by knowing how to manage strategically and knowing how to use two-way communication practices. She applied and demonstrated a clear understanding of two-way communication by encouraging feed-back through the building and maintaining relationships with various publics.

The closing remarks in one of her articles demonstrates her communication to philatelic organizations and in the local communities in seeking for more information, all the while encouraging two-way communication and feedback.

My intellectual curiosity has been stimulated in an endeavor to sort and classify this mail and decide what I think it may mean to the postal historian. However, it must be stated again that this entire preliminary article is based on mail addressed to one man. Mistakes may have been made but the only way they can be corrected is by hearing from others who may have further ideas, knowledge or information. I would be pleased to enter into correspondence with anyone who has any data about the intervention, in any of its phases. My address is 37 Inwood St., Yonkers, N. Y. (The American Philatelic Congress Book, 1963, pp. 143-144).

She went ever deeper, never satisfied with just a few letters. She had to know the whole story about Siberia and she knew she was racing against time. The surviving soldiers were dying. The following example demonstrates her extensive research to find detailed and specific facts. Her persuasive people skills resulted in War Department records being declassified, (before the now Open Records Legislation was passed).

The following three excerpts are presented to demonstrate some of the results from the declassified material she obtained. The material shows salient details about the Siberian campaign; According to President Wilson’s instructions to General Graves, who was placed in command of the

troops in Siberia, we were to help these Czech troops reach Vladivostok safely; were to maintain the rail-ways in order to keep our stores of stocks in Russia on the move, and were to assist the Russians.

All this was about three months before the signing of the Armistice of World War I on Nov. 11, 1918.  Christmas 1918 came and went, and they received no orders to go home. Many of them froze during that 1919 winter and before too long the first anniversary of the Armistice was being celebrated everywhere except in the barracks of the A.E.F. in Siberia. It was not until 1920 that the last doughboys in Siberia found themselves on their way home to loved ones (Siberian Sojourn, vol. 1, pp. 129-130).

The example shows part of General Graves final report submitted to the War Department. This report demonstrates how successful Faulstich was in obtaining classified material for her book.  Additionally, the report shows useful details about why the troops were in Siberia and that indeed
they were forgotten and could not get home after the war ended.

It was an almost impossible task to convince the Japanese or Chinese or Italian officers that on account of our sanitary regulations we can only put 150 men into a building…(one) into which they would put 300-500. They would not admit that our soldiers were deserving of any more consideration than their own (Faulstich, vol. 2 p. 126).

This example shows details which confirm some of atrocities the soldiers were faced while in Siberia. General Graves’ report was made on September 25, 1919 to the Adjutant General of the Army. These events were never published openly and Faulstich wanted to use the power of journalism, to tell the world what happened in Siberia. The last example continues to show some of the things the Americans encountered while in Siberia.

. . . Personal and official relations with Japanese headquarters have left nothing to be desired except that the Japanese have simply been following a different policy. They have resorted to bribery and trickery in every way. The Japanese Chief of Staff has stated that they have already spent one hundred million yen in Siberia on their army. They spend money in a way and follow methods that Americans cannot and must not follow. However, condemn these methods as much as we do, the fact remains that conditions are such here and the Russian people are such, that I doubt very much whether it is possible for us in the face of such obstacles to realize the American ideals of honesty, liberty and justice in Siberia for years and years to come (Faulstich, vol. 2, p127).

Always the persuasive but gracious communicator, Faulstich was ever mindful of the people who helped her with her research and work. For her, it was always we instead of me. Her acknowledgments from “A Find!” demonstrate her people skills It would not have been possible to compile this information without the devoted assistance of many who understood a bit here, and a bit there, about the situation in Siberia during the intervention.

Although the study is one of original research, I feel I must express my thanks to those who helped answer my questions and who volunteered information. Ralph Baggs deserves my very special thanks for putting at my disposal his collection of letters and covers which had been preserved for 25 years. Others who helped include the late Kenneth Roberts and the late General Robert Eichelberger who served in the campaign; C. D. Brenner; the Rev. Flyod Leach; Mrs. Ralph Fletcher and the following soldiers and nurses who also served in Siberia: P.J. O’Dea, Harold Metzeger, Laurie Kent, J. H. Whitehead, Eugene Streed, Henry Fry and Lillian Stark. Others, far too many to mention, have also contributed in some small way. My thanks go to all (24th American Philatelic Congress Book, 1963, p.144).

Faulstich did not pursue fame or fortune. She just wanted to communicate the saga of the mails and the very significant role philately played in communication, and the preservation and loss of lives. Her networking skills were one of the significant benchmarks to her success. She truly loved being in and around people.

“Truly it is not possible to describe all her accomplishments in the fields of Philately and Postal History. Her correspondence was so vast that it took her many days to answer letters from all over the world, especially in connection with her study of the American Expeditionary Forces in Siberia, a book she had hoped to publish (Deutch, 2).”

As the journalist Herman Herst, Jr. wrote in 1977, Edith M. Faulstich put to paper all that she learned. No one, not even Uncle Sam, knew as much about the Siberian American Expeditionary Force as Faulstich did. Her articles appeared in newspapers and in the philatelic press; her growing collection was shown at philatelic exhibitions in all parts of the country and internationally. Mrs. Philately, as some wondered, if she should not be called Mrs. Siberia (Herst, 1977).

Herst said, that as she delved ever deeper into one of the most terrible stories to come out of W.W.I, she predicted a possible outcome. Even if no one but stamp collectors showed any interest in the Siberian Campaign, perhaps in time, others would like to see an authoritative history about that Expedition.

Herst explained that Faulstich had collected extensively along a dozen lines and still had time to become one of philately’s most renowned writers, lecturers and exhibitors. She began the daunting task of writing the first complete authoritative story about the Siberian disaster. Faulstich managed a comprehensive correspondence with the remaining soldiers themselves, mindful of the fact that there was an air of urgency to produce the book, since the number of soldiers was growing ever smaller.

The book was half-written when tragedy halted her work. Edith M. Faulstich died of cancer, leaving a stockpile of notes and files for the unfinished portion of the book. The promise which she had made to these men fell on other shoulders, those of her aging husband, Fred Faulstich and her two sons Donald H. Fisher and Stephen Fisher. It became not just one of those races against time, but a race against death, for most of the men involved in the Siberian campaign were in their 80s and 90s. Unfortunately, many who looked forward to reading her promised book never lived to realize their hope. The first of the two-volume history about the Siberian Campaign was typed out on a typewriter and finished but never copyrighted or sold.

The Fisher brothers completed the first volume, eventually published it and distributed it to a small list of surviving soldiers and their families. The aging and now deceased, Fred Faulstich completed the second volume, spending hundreds of hours on notes written by Edith M. Faulstich’s exhaustive research.

Herst concluded, that even if Uncle Sam does not always remember her exemplary sons and daughters who volunteer their very lives in the line of duty, this public communicator Edith M. Faulstich desired to preserve their story, their commitment and their loyalty with her commitment to
postal history through philately.

From Siberia to President

Faulstich demonstrated knowledge and ability to function in a communication managers role. She had a clear understanding or sense of purpose about her work. She wanted to tell people about philately, postal history and what happened in Siberia.

As an international philatelic communication manager, Faulstich was involved with the creation, organization and communication of the Postal History Society. Linn’s Stamp News published an article on Monday, October 27, 1980, demonstrating Faulstich’s involvement in the society’s origins.

Originally, Edith M. Faulstich began urging the collectors around her in 1949 and at SOJEX that it seemed high time to start a postal history society in the United States, similar to that in the United Kingdom. No one had the desire to attempt such an undertaking, and Ms. Fisher subsequently moved to Oregon to become editor of Covers, so she could not follow up on her own suggestion.

The Postal History Society was first organized at the Capex International Stamp Exhibition in November 1951. It was recognized in October of 1956. Faulstich created, wrote and edited the first Postal History Journal. In May 1957 she wrote an editors’ message:

It has been a pleasure to mold an idea for our Society into and accomplished fact. However, it is only by trial and error that we may ultimately produce the type of journal which will gain and international reputation as a source of lasting postal history reference. My fond hope is that this Utopian goal will be reached before to long.

In producing this first journal we were faced with no style pattern to follow, no backlog of material; in fact we did not even have a printer! But we met the various problems as they came along and hope that we may have met with some small success. Now we can travel forward. May the road be wide, not too bumpy, and may there be many by-paths into the postal history of all nations. My personal good wishes go to the permanent editor who will be appointed at the June convention to carry the editorial banner for our society.

Faulstich created, delegated, edited, wrote, managed and communicated for the Postal History   Society for 15 years. She promoted the collecting of covers from different postal jurisdictions and  stamp issuing authorities. Faulstich was very good at finding common elements that drew people together. She found there were many different periods, themes and phases about postal history.

Faulstich found “the tie which really drew members together in a common interest was in the different phases of postal history”(PHJ, 1981, p. 4.             In February 1981, the Postal History Journal recounts her appointment as the first woman president of the Postal History Society.

During a visit of Mr. And Mrs. Fred Faulstich in 1964, I approached Dee Faulstich whether she would be interested in being nominated to the office of president for 1965. She doubted that my nomination would be of any value since she did not believe that the board would be interested in having a woman in that post. Of course, I objected strongly and finally with the help of Fred’s persuasion, she accepted the suggestion (PHJ, 1981, p 8).

By 1965 the Postal History Society had grown to more than 300 members. She served in the position of president for three years until her death in September 1972. It is interesting to note that there has only been one other woman president of the society since Faulstich. Because of her profound knowledge about postal history, her people skills, her networking skills, her ability to align herself with political powers and her ability to build and maintain relationships, she became an excellent communication manager.

Faulstich knew how to write,  edit, and produce organization journals, handle communication production, run philatelic conferences, maintain media relations and organize speakers bureaus. It is clear that traditional communication skills such as writing and editing, are not the only skills needed for communication excellence. Faulstich demonstrated that traditional communication skills are not enough.

Faulstich knew how to design and select appropriate messages and media to strategically communicate a message outward to the publics which affected the organization’s survival. Faulstich managed an organization of 300 people,  as an advocate of two-way communication she wrote for those interested in philatelic subjects.

She attended many philatelic functions, developed and maintained extensive relationships with many publics and influenced many people all over the world by communicating about postal history.

Indeed, as an advocate she influenced many people. One such person was Diane D. Boehert. When Boehert was a young woman she also wanted a chance to be published. Boehert said, “She took her personal time and mentored me with her knowledge and gave me my beginnings as a philatelic researcher and writer. I got my start in philately from Edith with her superior communication and management skills” (authors interview no. 2, September 26, 1996). Boehert was elected to the Postal History Society as the second woman president in 1989. Boehert continues to serve as president (author’s interview no. 2, 1996).

There are several existing examples which effectively demonstrate the depth and bread of her communication management skills. Faulstich managed and increased awareness about postal history.

Word of her dynamic influence, diplomacy and vast experience in the philatelic arena spread to international philatelic groups. Many people desired to have her speak and judge at international philatelic exhibitions and other related functions.

On one such occasion, Faulstich received a very glowing and edifying letter from a man stating that his club would be very honored to have such an internationally famous person speak at their stamp club meeting in southern New Jersey. The letter was signed by the president, Mr. Smerber. Faulstich recognized the name Smerber as it was not a very common name. She also remembered that he was the same Mr. Smerber from her tenth grade math class. At that time he did not link Edith M. Faulstich as being the same person as Edith M Vanderpoel. She was the same person from his 1925 tenth grade math class (author’s interview no. 2, 1996).

She wrote a very nice letter back to Mr. Smerber and graciously accepted his invitation. When Faulstich arrived at the meeting, Mr. Smerber did not recognize her when she arrived at the formal luncheon. Faulstich began her opening remarks about the importance of knowledge and commitment in the successfully promoting philatelic work. She then began to weave a captivating tale, recounting a forty year-old story about a tenth grade student and how much a teacher can impact and contribute to helping shape the future lives of students. She then coyly but ever so diplomatically turned a smile to Mr. Smerber. She said, “. . . and that student who was Edith M. Vanderpoel became Edith M. Faulstich. I stand before all of you today to say that my personal education has been and still is the key to promoting the importance of our philatelic work and research.”

She then very skillfully intertwined her enthralling story so that it resonated well with the members present by providing relevant motivational material and many gracious thanks for inviting her to speak. Faulstich never mentioned Mr. Smerber’s name in front of the audience. Faulstich and Smerber maintained contact for many years after the speech (author’s interview no. 2, 1996).

The multiplicity and interaction of various communication skills best demonstrates Faulstich and how she successfully performed journalism and public communication for philately. She clearly exhibited that there is no substitute for knowledge and research. It is clear that knowledge alone cannot establish excellent journalism or excellent public communication.

Besides her journalism and public speaking skills, excerpts from the Postal History Journal, The American Philatelic Congress Book, past articles, letters and an auction announcement undeniably demonstrate the magnitude of Faulstich’s work. She managed multiple audiences, multiple research projects, multiple print media, national and international stamp conferences, as well as a vast
international correspondence. Many of the people she worked with were icons in their own professional arenas and Faulstich associated and befriended everyone she met.

An excerpt from The 16th American Philatelic Congress Book demonstrates, Faulstich’s career in 1950 and the enormous breadth of the work she managed:

Mrs. Fisher is the stamp editor of the Newark Sunday News, (Newark, N.J.) and of the Bergen Evening Record (Hackensack, N.J.) In the latter paper her column appears three times each week. She also writes the regular American Letter for the Philatelic Magazine of London, England and regular features for the Philippine Journal of Philately, Manila. Free lance articles by-lined by her have appeared in many domestic and foreign periodicals. She has just started a regular series on cover collecting for Western Stamp Collector.

Mrs. Fisher is a Director of the Association for Stamp Exhibitions and was a member of the executive committee for Cipes 1947.   She is serving as an officer and on committees for many philatelic groups including the Helvetica Society, the Collector Club of N.Y., the National Philatelic Museum, the APS, the SPA and the National Federation of Stamp Clubs.  As Toast master at the Philatelic Writers Breakfast in Atlantic City in 1950 she suggested the idea of a Postal History   Society in the United States. Together with Bernard Davis, she was nominated as co-chairman to investigate the feasibility of such a group. In 1949, she was awarded the Essex Stamp Club’s first Gold Medal for distinguished Service to Philately (p. 43).

Faulstich wrote for the people in the philatelic circle. She appealed to them through her journalism and related writing. Another good example reflecting Faulstich’s communication management skills can be noted in an excerpted message from the Postal History Digest in 1965, to its 300 members.

…However, we all know any society is only as great as those who are a part of it in more than name only. I therefore ask for voluntary recruits to expand the services we offer.

We now have over 300 members. Most of them reside in the United States but a goodly number reside in Canada and we also have members in England, Switzerland, Guatemala, France Belgium, Germany, The Philippines, Puerto Rico, The Netherlands, Sweden, Cuba and Yugoslavia.

If each member in each foreign country will show our wonderful Postal History Journal to other postal historians in their countries I am sure we will have more foreign members and such growth will be beneficial to all. I hope too that many of our foreign friends will be able to visit with us next year during USIPEX.

If each member in the country and in Canada will seek out other local postal historians and urge them, if they are serious in their interest, to join us we will be able to expand our membership considerably. With an expanded membership we will have additional income. With the additional income we will in turn be able to do more for our members. It is as simple as that.

Therefore, I ask each member to consider himself, or herself, a working member of our membership committee.

We think that a great deal of interest is engendered by our local metropolitan area monthly meetings and hope that members will form branches in other cities to carry on the already phenomenal growth on interest in postal history.Another way that each and every member can serve the society is to urge dealers to advertise in our high caliber Journal if they have postal history material. The income from our ads helps to make possible the continuation of the fine publication.

Last, but certainly not least, each of you can help by writing articles for consideration for the Journal and for the Digest.

We seek original, informative articles of lasting philatelic reference for the Journal and short articles, finds, and notes of interest for the Digest. In what capacity can you serve your society? Whatever it is it will be appreciated and will help me to be a better president.

Dee’s Commitment to a Cause

Faulstich was committed to the cause of promoting and increasing awareness about philately, postal history and the Siberian Campaign with a great deal of physical and intellectual effort and her own personal time.

Faulstich did not use just one best way, tool or process to become a successful journalist or public advocate for philately. But more important in demonstrating Faulstich, is that not one single component or skill made her successful as a journalist and public communicator. Faulstich did not confine her crusade solely to journalism. She used modern business practices, public speaking, fund raising, international travel and she wrote extensively to promote postal history. All of the factors presented interacted with each other and contributed to her success.

Faulstich raced to tell people about postal history and the story concerning WWI’s Siberian atrocities. Likewise, Faulstich was relentless in her appeal to obtain contact with the surviving and aging soldiers from the Siberian Expedition. Faulstich knew the power of newspapers and used the medium to advance her work. Faulstich was prolific in using journalism’s unique position to further the awareness about postal history. She used the power of print journalism and public communication to generate increased awareness about the need and value for philately and postal history through her book about the human atrocities suffered in Siberia.

Faulstich’s success in generating increased awareness is attributed to her personal contact with diverse publics. She refused mental inertia, indifferent acquiescence, tamed submission, and silence in the face of injustice. Faulstich chose a life of ceaseless unrest and a process of constantly aspiring. She stood up to be heard, she gained respect in the community for the work she had performed.

Faulstich showed tenacity and commitment to worthwhile causes. Americans needed to know about Siberia and what happened to the soldiers. Faulstich was not the typical journalist, and she wrote comprehensively about philately. Through research and postal history Faulstich wrote about the plight of the Siberian Soldiers. Faulstich was ceaseless in her cause for Siberian Soldiers. She was the first woman journalist to report about the Siberian Expedition of WWI.

Her commitment propelled her to write and communicate passionately about the history of stamps beyond traditional communication crafts.

Faulstich’s success was not based on formal communication training, advanced academic degrees, statistical controls or tight quality processes. Faulstich applied more humanistic theories to her journalism, public communication, and communication management.

Finally, Faulstich demonstrated a multiplicity and fluidity of communication skills with only a high school education and accomplished multiple professional public relation practices that preceded today’s formal training and public communication theories. But it was the time she committed to her work and the people she interacted with that made her an excellent philatelic journalist and communicator.

In the end, though it was not her goal, Faulstich received appreciation and adulation for her philatelic work from all over the world, as noted from the following excerpt:

Mrs. Edith M. Faulstich, whose collection makes up the vast majority of lots in this auction was one of the   world’s foremost collectors of material devoted to the Postal History of the World.  Her own title for the collection,  “Saga of the Mails,” is the best description that can be given, in a single phrase.

The collection has won numerable awards, including several Grand Awards and “Court of Honor” status in both National and International Exhibitions. Much of her original research has been published in the form of monographs on specialized subjects, such as the “Extra Courier” postmarks of Switzerland, the “Cito” marks of Europe and, at the time  of her death she was engaged in writing an extensive, authoritative work on the Allied Operations in North Russia and Siberia of World War I.

To attempt to describe the contents of the collection would be an exercise in futility. The magnitude is overwhelming.

The time period covered dates back to the writings on clay tablets in ancient Babylon or Asseria and progresses through the centuries up to present times.

She made so many friends through Philately-with her warmth and generosity…(Siegel, 1).

III: Conclusion

Edith M. Faulstich’s success in journalism and public communication can be illustrated in many ways. Edith M. Faulstich successfully moved beyond the social stigma of divorce, beyond poverty, and sexism.

In her early years, Faulstich went from poverty to journalism. Newspapers did hire Edith M. Faulstich during the 1940s, 1950s and into the 1960s. She wrote for The Record and The Newark Sunday News.

Her research led to her having military organizations agreeing to declassify top secret military records so that she could publish an authoritative work about the Siberian Campaign during WWI. By completely devoting most of her available time to philately. Faulstich learned that not many people knew about the atrocities the American soldiers had endured in Siberia. Faulstich found a need to verbally communicate about her factual findings relative to the Siberian Campaign and postal history.

In the end, Faulstich raced to communicate against the ravages of time for philately, for the lives of the forgotten soldiers who were left in Siberia and finally she raced against time for her own life.

Faulstich also created, delegated, edited, wrote, managed and communicated for the Postal History Society for 15 years. She was instrumental in growing the society. By 1965 the Postal History Society had grown to more than 300 members by promoting the collecting of covers from different postal jurisdictions and stamp issuing authorities.

“Dee,” as her friends knew her, used a multiplicity of communication factors such as journalism, extensive research, profound knowledge, communication management skills and a relentless commitment to a cause, to become a successful international public communicator for philately. But above all, she passionately gave of her personal time to tell people about the value of postal history.

Racing against time, Faulstich became the first philatelic woman journalist, first woman author about WW1’s Siberian Expedition in Russia, first woman president and communication manager of any philatelic organization. The Postal history Society grew to exceed 300 members before she died.

Because of her journalism skills, profound knowledge about postal history, her people skills and her ability to build and maintain relationships, she became an excellent communication manager.

Her weaknesses were the uncontrollable events of life, such as physical human frailties (she died of cancer), and the injustices imposed by other people.

Faulstich had many personal strengths. For example, it is incredible that a person with only a high school education could accomplish so much through journalism and public communication. With “moxie” she met life’s challenges and with “moxie” she used multiple professional public relation practices. Faulstich preceded formal communication training and many public communication theories. The rich knowledge base of information she obtained through her research should be published and warrants further study.

If public communication and journalism historians have previously overlooked a woman as internationally well known as Edith M. Faulstich, it is quite possible that they have failed to investigate the lives of other important and successful women who used a multiplicity of communication management skills in similar avocations. There may well be other women who, once their lives have been researched, may be added to the list of proactive women who were able to confront obstacles and difficulties with spirit, courage and guts. Women like Faulstich fully understood Antoine de Saint-Exupery’s prophetic words about the valuable time she had spent for her rose. It is the personal time she invested in philately as a journalist and public communicator that has made her rose so very important (Saint-Exupery, p 87).


American Heritage Desk Dictionary. Houghton and Mifflin. 1981. p. 631.

American Philatelic Congress Book, 16th. (1950). “Edith M. Fisher,” NY, p. 43.

American Philatelic Congress Book, 29th. (1963). “A Find! – Mail to the American Expeditionary Forces in Siberia; 1918-1920,” NY, pp. 129- 144.

Boehret, Diane D. (12 Oct. 1995) President, Postal History, Inc. Author’s Interview no. 2. Virginia Beach. Va.

Deutch, W.D. (Jan 1973). “Edith M. Faulstich, President-1965-1967,” Postal History Journal. Vol. 17, no. 33, p. 2.

Faulstich, Edith M. (Winter 1963). “A Capsual of Early Postal Development,” Postal History Digest. Vol 1, no, 1, pp. 5-7.

Faulstich, Edith M. (Spring 1967). “A Sincere Thank you from the President,” Postal History Digest. Vol 5, no.1, pp. 5-7.

Fisher, Donald H. and Frankie A. (14 Sept. 1995). Author’s Interview no. 1. Hunstville, Ala.

Library of Congress. Call Number: newspaper 7002, microfilm no. 1290. Newpaper Archives, Room 303. Jefferson Building, 10 First Street S.E. Washington, D.C. 20540.

Lockhart, Kori, San Francisco Opera, Available E-mail: Klockhart@sfopera.com. Monday, 31 Mar 1997

Map of Kinderhoock, New York. (1686) Original Source Unknown

Mills, Kay. (1988). A Place in the News: From the Women’s Pages to the Front Pages. N.Y. Dodd, Mead and Co. 1988. p. 65.

Mueller, Barbara R. (26 Sept. 1995). Author’s Interview no. 3. Jefferson, Wi.

Postal History Journal. Faulstich, Edith M. (May 1957). Vol. 1, no. 1, p. 1.

The Record. Library, 125 River Street, Hackensack, New Jersey 07601-7172.

The Record, Paul Wilder, Librarian. Internet, recordlibrary@postoffice. worldnet.att.net. March 18, 1997.

Siegeil, Robert A. “In Memoriam,” Robert A. Siegel Auction Galleries. N.Y., 19 Nov. 1973. p. 2.

Categories: A.E.F>, Communication Study, Edith Faulstich, Journalism, Postal History, Public Relations, Siberian History, Stamps Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

The Study of Postal History is Vast

April 24, 2012 Leave a comment


With the impending doom of our US Post Offices closing and our entire U.S mail system as a whole.  I believe postal history and stamp collecting will increase in importance and value to the historic thread in our lives.  As a child, I was given stamps from grandmother, Edith Faulstich, which I have hung onto all these years. And, I would like to know more about any of the following early 1900 stamps and or covers. If you know anything about any of them, please let me know. It would make my grandmother proud that I still have them.

Postal history is the study of postal systems and how they operate and, or, the collecting of covers and associated material illustrating historical episodes of postal systems. The term is attributed to Robson Lowe, a professional philateliststamp dealer and stamp auctioneer, who made the first organised study of the subject in the 1930s and described philatelists as “students of science”, but postal historians as “students of humanity”.

Postal history has become a philatelic collecting speciality in its own right. While philately is concerned with the study of the stamps per se, postal history can include the study of postal rates, postal policy, postal administration, political effects on postal systems, postal surveillance and the consequences of politics, business, and culture on postal systems; basically anything to do with the function of the collection, transportation and delivery of mail. Areas of special interest include disrupted or transitional periods, such as wars which Edith Faulstich wrote about and our military occupation in Siberia, and her saga of the mail to and from remote areas during WWI.

In studying or collecting any postal history subject some overlap is inevitable because it is impossible to separate the different areas that affect the mail from one another. Regional studies like countries of origin, native districts, cities, towns or villages, places associated with family roots, or workplaces, can comprise geographical based postal history studies. In the past collectors usually based their studies on “mail from” but “mail to” and “mail through” a place expand the postal service story because outgoing mail mainly shows marking associated with the areas of study while incoming mail tells a much broader story and are now more likely to be included. Transportation based studies can include,AerophilatelyBalloon mailMaritime mailRocket mail, while subject based studies can include Express mail,MarcophilyMilitary mailPostal censorshipPre-adhesive mail and Registered mail (Source: Wikipedia)

Thanks for reading my post and I hope you will read more about my grandmother, Edith Faulstich. If you have any information to share I would love to hear from you.  Here are some other resources directly below as well.

Life History of Edith Margaret VanderPoel / Fisher / Faulstich

April 23, 2012 Leave a comment

Dee Faulstich

Faulstich was a pioneer student and collector of postal history. She campaigned extensively to have postal history recognized as a category at major exhibitions. She was a founder of the Postal History Society of the Americas (now the Postal History Society, Inc.). Faulstich helped the PHS through its early years as the first editor of its Postal History Journal, and as president from 1965 to 1967.

In her philatelic career, “Dee” edited Covers magazine, The Essay-Proof Journal and was associate editor of Western Stamp Collector. She wrote a stamp column in the Bergen (NJ) Evening Record and later in the Newark (NJ) News.

Faulstich built world-class collections of the postal history of the American Expeditionary Forces and the Canadian Expeditionary Forces in Siberia during World War I.

Edith Faulstich, As a Youth

Edith M. Vanderpoel was born on May 22, 1907. As a child, she came “from a very upper-middle class family.” The generations before her had owned some large homes and property, as well as several saw mills on the Hudson River (Map of Kinderhoock, 1686). She had it all as a child and the family lost it all. She regained her family’s prominence and her wealth through her journalism and public communication (author’s interview, no. 1, 1995).

 As a child she developed the nick name “Dee.” The development and transformation of the name came from her Swiss-German grandfather, Conrad Bollinger. When ever he tried to pronounce Edith and it always came out “E dit.” It sounded like he was always saying eat it. To avoid embarrassment he began calling her Dee. Throughout her life she was known as Dee.

One occurrence appears to have become a pivotal point in her life. Faulstich knew she was intelligent and despite what others thought, she was not a quitter. At Park Ridge High School in 1925, Edith had enrolled in Mr. Smerber’s tenth-grade geometry class. It was not that she needed the class to graduate, but all her friends were in the class. She was a very social person, but be it known, Edith was not a flighty person by nature and always gave her best at any given task. Part way through the geometry course, Faulstich realized she and math did not mix. Never having done so before and after considerable deliberation, she asked to withdraw from the class.

Mr. Smerber brought her up from her wooden desk to the front of the class and stood her up on top of the platform where his desk reigned. Before the entire class of 25 students, Mr. Smerber proclaimed that she was a quitter, a looser and that she would never amount to anything” (author’s interview, no. 1, 1995). Despite the embarrassing incident in front of her classmates she graduated from high school in 1927.

Later in her life, this incident would become the opening remarks of a speech she would make to a large philatelic audience in southern New Jersey.

Due to the death of her father, she was unable to go to college but took a secretarial course. “She married at the age of 20 and had two sons” (Deutch, 2). Her married name became Edith M. Fisher. By the early 1940s, she was a divorced woman alone with two sons to support” (author’s interview, no. 1, 1995), and little to no income.

She faced many personal and financial trials as a single parent. Divorce in those days caused a quite a social stigma. Also, it was a man’s world and the only professions open to women during those early years were teaching or nursing. Women were not often afforded the opportunity to attend college. Instead, they generally held what were considered menial tasks as receptionists, secretaries and stenographers.

Dee started out as a stenographer and it did not make her happy. But the job brought in money to feed her children. Women were not very involved with factory work (author’s interview, no. 1, 1995).

Faulstich lived behind one of the family houses in a garden bungalow, daily she traveled to the city, by rail, to work as a stenographer. She earned forty dollars a week, twenty-eight dollars per month went for traveling costs into the city. She worked from seven in the morning until six at night.

She had a difficult time working long hours for little pay, overcoming financial difficulties and raising two children by herself (author’s interview, no. 1, 1995).

She had a great deal of emotional resilience. Faulstich “had what they called in those days, ‘moxie'”(author’s interview, no. 1,1995). Moxie is a slang term that defines the capacity to confront obstacles and difficulties with spirit; courage and guts (American Heritage Desk Dictionary,1981, p. 631).

She had a proactive inclination to respond purposefully to existing problems or events. Purposefully, Faulstich started stamp collecting as a hobby with her sons. In the beginning, it was a way for Faulstich and her children to do something together. It was a good way to spend some precious quality time together.

Faulstich “had a ‘yen,’ a longing, to write” and she was not a shy person (authors interview no. 1, 1995). In the beginning with her philatelic work, Faulstich wanted to know how people communicated before pre-printed governmental stamps, before 1840. She then wanted to promote and increase awareness about the value and need for postal history.

Additionally, there were several intangible elements about Faulstich that were also an integral part of her work. The intangibles were her emotional passion and the personal time she invested in philately which lent to her success. She was genuinely interested in people and how postal history affected people.

The human component was very important to her.


The Siberian Sojourn Volume II-Chapter 21

November 6, 2010 3 comments

The Siberian Sojourn Volume II-Chapter 21

General Graves and More Troops Arrive in Vladivostok

General Graves arrived on the THOMAS. It was a beautiful sunny day. The officers already in Vladivostok had arisen at four in the morning to greet the General aboard the transport. Graves was more than pleased with the warm welcome but had to part company at 11 am for a scheduled breakfast aboard the BROOKLYN.
His first official visit into he city was to call on General Otani in order to set straight the question as to whether the American soldiers would march under a Japanese flag. Graves told Otani: “I did not and in fact my orders were of such a nature that I could not relinquish control of United States troops.”
Graves told Otani it was, however, his desire to cooperate in every way possible with the Japanese and that he felt assured they could accomplish the same objective because Grave felt the desires of the Japanese Government and the American Government were the same. “I also told him,” Grave wrote, “that in view of the limitations placed upon me as to the use of American troops I must insist upon being informed where troops were to be transferred and for what purpose before they were moved.”[i]
Graves also verbally told Colonel Styer, who had preceded him in command in Siberia, as to those limitations and requested him to act accordingly. “The Japanese Headquarters apparently thoroughly understood the situation and there has been no friction and conflict in the operations here.”[ii]
Later that first day problems were forgotten in one great social event arranged by General Otani. After the officers dressed for the occasion cars awaited their pleasure to take them to the affair. High ranking officers of all nations were on hand. One American said his head was whirling with the realization of how many really important military men from a great variety of countries were there shaking hands, bowing, eating and drinking with each other.
The food was spread out on tables as if there was no such thing as famine, as though there were no hungry peasants. It seemed ironic to some that the monarchy had been overthrown for just such dining and drinking while the peasants had cried for bread. Yet in Vladivostok the Allied officials were that night emulating such festivities while the peasants were starving in the hills. It did not set well with some of our men. It was too much like Moscow again with its banquet tables, high dress, drinks and social intercourse. One man wondered if a bread riot might not follow and had to admit he would not much blame the peasants if they broke down the doors in protest. But nothing happened. The affair was carried off with finesse as the military greats drank vodka and champagne and ate the finest of caviar and other delicacies. It was probably just as well that the hungry American soldiers who had been marching back and forth through the town knew nothing of that gala affair.
The day after arrival was a warm pleasant one. The officers were beginning to wonder just where they would live. “We will probably live in Headquarters,” Eichelberger wrote, as he sat in his pajamas in a stateroom on the THOMAS that early September morning.
He ( ???? check book illegible ) ything less beautiful. He wrote in his office in town that he was in “a house of cockroaches. They are here ( ???? check book illegible )y the million.” However, their own rooms were fairly clean and he told his wife he managed to draw a mattress and also to get a spring cot “like the one at Camp Fremont.”
While some of the men were seeing the cockroaches, Graves was busy with communiques that were piling up on his desk. He began to realize the complexities of the problems that were to face him in the days ahead. Not only was Russia in a chaotic state but the aims of some of the allies were questionable. The Commanding General was keen enough to foresee problems with the aggressive Japanese. On the diplomatic front he had to concern himself with General Alfred Knox of the British army who had no use for Russian peasants. Graves disagreed violently with Knox’s opinion and did not appreciate the latter’s determined effort to set up a reactionary regime in Siberia by building up the image of Kolchak, a former Admiral of the White Russian fleet.
As the days passed Graves was cognizant of the fact that most of the Allies who were ready and willing to fight the Bolsheviks had anticipated that the Americans would join the Allies. It was impossible for Graves to carry out the President’s wishes and cooperate with such aims. Furthermore, Graves was not amendable to making Kolchak the Supreme Commander of the White Russians, in spite of the wishes of the other Allies. Washington itself had given its nod of approval to this matter. Our General knew that Kolchak’s henchmen were raiding villages to impress men into the Kolchak army. He abhorred the tactics they used and felt that Washington was not apprised of the situation as it existed. If a village did not cooperate, the leaders of a town would be hauled off to be whipped or shot. Worse still, they were sometimes dipped into frigid waters until they became human icicles. Such reports worried Graves who stated, “I have often thought that it was unfortunate I did not know more of the conditions in Siberia than I did when I was pitchforked into the melee at Vladivostok. At other times I have thought that ignorance was not only bliss in such a situation but was advisable.”[iii]
Regarding the piled supplies which could be seen everywhere near the wharf, Graves did not need any communique. A panorama
spread before him or arms and ammunition lying around on wharfs or sidings or on vacant lots. Some material was in crates, some unprotected, some covered with huge canvas tarpaulins. Cotton was found thrown on the ground with no covering and nothing beneath it to protect it from dampness. Piles of rubber, so desperately needed by the Allies, were in evidence. There were automobiles that had never been uncrated. If this lifeline of supplies fell into the hands of enemy factions it would be disastrous. Guards were detailed to safeguard the supplies.
Then thee was the problem of the Czecho-Slovaks. By a strange twist of fate these men who the Americans had come to help were now fighting their own battles admirably.
“I was being disillusioned very fast,” Graves said. He reread his orders again and again and throughout his service in Siberia he refused to be forced by political or military groups to aide with one faction against the other. It seemed as though there was nothing left for our troops to do but carry out the part of the instructions relating to the guarding of military stores which might subsequently be needed by Russian forces.
However, the term “Russian forces” had to be defined before any steps could be taken to render aid referred to in the policy. In his book Graves wrote that the decision could not be made in Washington. Conditions were such in Siberia that one could not render any assistance to a Russian without discarding the policy of non-intervention in internal affairs. The General stated: “I could not give a Russian a shirt without being subject to trying to help the side to which the recipient of the shirt belonged.”
In addition to attempting to determine which of the Russians constituted ‘Russian forces,’ Graves also wondered about which element should be considered ‘the enemy.’
Throughout the intervention Graves’ neutral position represented views of the Chief of Staff, Secretary of War and the President himself. At first it was also the view of the State Department. Later, however, the War and State Departments differed. This added to Graves’ concern.
As though the situation in Russia itself was not enough to give any man a migraine, Graves was faced with the question of barracks and storage facilities for his American men. Satisfying the question of which army would occupy which barracks was a task of great magnitude, especially as those representatives of those nations having the fewest troops were often the hardest to satisfy.”[iv]
The General stated: “It was an almost impossible task to convince the Japanese or Chinese or Italian forces that on account of our sanitary regulations we can only put 150 men into a building. . .(one) into which they would put 300-500. They would not admit that our soldiers were deserving of any more consideration than their own.”[v]
Such questions had to be handled with tact and diplomacy.
As though there were not enough problems at hand, General Otani asked each of the Allies to designate officers to sit on nine different committees: Material, Barracks and Quarters, Finance, POW, Inter-Allied Railway, Sanitary and Tariff and Marital Law. This would take more time. In addition, Allied representatives were at first scheduled to meet twice a week, then once a week to discuss matters of common interest. No committee decision was final, but when policies were not violated the majority opinion was usually adopted.[vi]
Later General Graves was to report: “. . .Personal and official relations with Japanese Headquarters have left nothing to be desired except that the Japanese have simply been following a different policy. They have resorted to bribery and trickery in every way. The Japanese Chief of Staff has stated that they have already spent one hundred million yen in Siberia on their army. They spend money in a way and follow methods that Americans cannot and must not follow. However, condemn these methods as much as we do, the fact remains that conditions are such here and the Russian people are such, that. . .I doubt very much whether it is possible for us in the face of such obstacles to realize the American ideals of honesty, liberty and justice in Siberia for years and years to come.”[vii]

The doughboys were not as busy as was General Graves and his staff upon arrival, but they were eager to get off the transport and into town for a firsthand look at the city itself.
First, however, they were required to eat breakfast on board. Then they received permission to debark.
Food on the transports was cooked in copper kettles by steam. Under ordinary circumstances the kettles were emptied after each meal, and scalding steam was used to cleanse them thoroughly. In this way, they were completely sterilized before the next meal. This method of cooking aboard army transports has long since been abandoned, but in September, 1918, that was the method used.
When the men received their dinner Labor Day night in 1918, they knew they would be eating their breakfast on the transport as well. The cooks also knew this. Henry Fry reports, “Those damn cooks must have had it figured out in advance that if they cooked more slum for dinner than the men could eat there would be some left over for breakfast. So they did just that, and then, not being military, they were permitted to go to town. Thus, when the slum cooled, and remember it had been sitting in those copper kettles all night, it was just reheated and served again. The effect was ptomaine poisoning.”[viii]
The result of that morning meal was catastrophic. After seventeen days on the water nearly every man was sick upon arrival. It has been reported that anywhere from 250 to 1,700 men were stricken a few hours after the meal was served. A survey showed that the men were indeed in the throes of ptomaine.
Stephen Chadwick records that they had no medical men assigned to them. That in itself was disastrous. Chadwick communicated with headquarters immediately, explaining the gravity of the situation, and requested that id be sent on the double.
An officer present at headquarters confided to Chadwick later that the Expedition Surgeon passed the petition for aid off with the remark that some of the men had doubtless had too much vodka. No assistance arrived.
At five o’clock most of the doughboys were too sick to leave their beds. Chadwick called again. An hour later a hospital corpsman with a bag of medicine appeared. He was unable to cope with the situation which existed. So Chadwick and a few others organized the well men into a sort of hospital corps and assisted, as far as they could, those unable to take care of themselves.
“At seven o’clock,” he recalls, “to my great relief, two young doctors drifted in. Seeing the situation and fully appreciating it, they immediately raided the so called Base Hospital and returned with two bottles of CC pills and one bottle of castor oil. The latter was said to be the only bottle with the expedition! The pills were given to those able to walk, the oil was soon exhausted on those unable to leave their beds,” Chadwick reports, and adds, “To those two doctors, Lieutenants Ehlers and Baronodisk, the men of the transport owe a real debt, for with me they waited and worked throughout the night. I hope the Expedition Surgeon slept soundly.”
Other men recalled that some of the sick were put in a field hospital which was set up in Russian quarters. “The doctors and pill rollers gave each of us either salts or castor oil to try to ease the onslaught of the pain,” said one man.

In time most of the men managed to overcome the ptomaine onslaught and began to look around them. Many were surprised to see that Siberia was not vastly different from the States. The climate was about the same and the people were similar to people one might meet anywhere in a cosmopolitan city except that most of the inhabitants were wretchedly clothed. But, all in all, it did not seem nearly as bad as it had sounded back home. There were troops from many countries and prisoners of war everywhere. Before them lay a beautiful harbor sight. A Japanese fleet with banners flying, the British KENT (a destroyer), and the American cruiser BROOKLYN were in full view. There were also two obsolete Russian destroyers.
But that first day it rained and rained. It was only a drizzling rain but the kind that soaks into a man’s body. Those that had been sick with ptomaine were weak and disgusted. Drizzling rain can knock a weak soldier out. Nevertheless, the AEFers had been ordered to get out with full packs and fall in. After that it was a repetition of orders to fall in and to fall out so many times that the men were worn to a frazzle before they finally received their marching orders. With full packs they were paraded from what was later known as American Base, through Vladivostok, all the way to the far end of Svetlanskaya Street.
To this day the men do not know the purpose of that tram, tramp, tramp. One said it was mismanagement from the top. Another said that “the Brass wanted to make a show to the natives.” But most of the men concluded that they looked too awful to be making any kind of a good impression.
“In all my years of service, sometimes marching all day, I have never suffered so much,” said Fry. “My shoulder straps from my pack cut into my shoulders. Our morale was not improved by seeing out buddies along the side of the street. I think our detachment must have lost about fifty percent of its effectiveness that day.” The “buddies along the street” were the men who had fallen out. After some two hours in the rain those who were able were still marching and the weaker ones simply gave up. Every half block or so another doughboy would just stop and sit down on the side of the road.
They saw by the bewilderment of the officers that they were without any forceful leadership. Graves had not had time to take command of the situation and apparently no arrangements had been made before their arrival. It is that sort of realization that makes for demoralization. The men were cursing and weeping at the same time. They were so hopelessly disordered and dismayed and without any guidance that it was a shock to their sense of discipline. The rain continued its incessant drizzling, but it did not help to wash away the annoyance each man felt.
When some of the men first arrived they cleaned off areas on the floor, spread their blankets and went to sleep. One man says he will never forget that first night. “In this building there was a poor starving family, they had no home, no nothing, and all their worldly possessions were the rags on their backs. They began to make signs indicating that they wanted food. We had nothing to give them as our mess set-up was in another place and we had had our supper. As we had to have a space to sleep our Lieutenant in command had to run those poor people out so that we could clear a spot to bed down on the floor. Of course it was raining, cold rain, as this was early in September and it was already getting chilly at night.[ix]
After the men became organized and got the buildings cleaned, new doors and windows were installed. Cots were issued, and mattress covers which they filled with straw.
Some of the men bought sheets from a Russian woman and managed to get extra blankets to make themselves fairly comfortable.
Henry Fry said his sleeping accommodations were subsequently not too bad as the Russian army bakeries were pretty well set up and sleeping quarters were provided for, according to the number of bakers they had. The higher ranking non-commissioned officers had small sleeping rooms. The officers’ quarters were habitable after they were cleaned. The soldiers were thankful that they had arrived in moderately cold weather rather than in the freezing weather of winter. “If we had arrived in Siberia two months later than we did, I doubt if we ever could have made it. When I think back of what we did have to go through I know we couldn’t have made it if it had been better cold.”[x]
One man recalled that when he arrived his group had been taken to a low field and told to pitch pup tents. “We had two blankets and thin clothing, he said, “and we about froze the night for we had been in the Philippine Islands where it was hot. A lot of the boys caught cold and some even died of exposure so we were pretty disgusted.”[xi]
Another man also recalls that camp. He reports, “all of the 31st Infantry was located in pyramidal wall tents until about the end of September. The days were quite comfortable but the nights were very cold. At least it seemed cold to us who had come from the Philippine Islands with only khaki uniforms and very thin underwear. As a result about fifty percent of the men in the regiment became ill with colds or flu. We had small cone type stoves in each tent. There were eight men to a tent. At night we would each take a one hour shift to keep the stove hot because we lacked sufficient blankets or heavy clothing to keep warm. We had to stay in those tents to give the laborers time to clean and repair the barracks we were to occupy. You just would not believe the tons of dirt, excrement and dead flies that were taken out of each of these barracks before we were able to occupy them in late September.”[xii]
Some of the troops had taken over one of the Baldwin Locomotive sheds upon arrival. They remained for a day, having mess on the transport. Then they were informed that messing from the transport had to end. These men were equipped as casuals, without kitchen equipment, so feeding became quite a problem. Beef was issued in half and other rations in similar proportions. The men took the only way out. They raided the Quartermaster Warehouse for sufficient supplies to feed themselves. Altogether, there were 1,250 men, formerly of the Eighth, quartered in the Baldwin sheds. They were located about three miles out from the center of the city, and from expedition headquarters.[xiii]
Joe Longuevan was lucky when he joined Company C, 31st; it was already comfortably ensconced in the brick barracks on the Churkin-Dio [1] Joseph B. Longuevan, Co. C, 31st Inf.
[i]Grave’s book
[ii]Gen. Graves’ official report #2 dated 6/30/19, WDNA
[iii]Graves’ book
re[prt dated 6/30/19, WDNA
[v]Graves’ Final Report, WDNA
[vi]Graves’ Final Report, WDNA
[vii]Graves’ Report, September 25, 1919 to Adjutant General of the Army, WDNA
[viii]Henry C. Fry, Quartermaster Corps.
[ix]Henry C. Fry
[x]Henry C. Fry
[xi]Alphia Wilber Goreham, Co. D, 31st Inf.
[xii]Lester William Reed, Co. K, 31st Inf.
[xiii]Stephen F. Chadwick, Lt. Co. D, 27th Inf., 1st Bn. Adjutant, Regimental Personnel Adjutant

The SIberian Sojourn Volume II- Chapter 20

November 6, 2010 Leave a comment

The SIberian Sojourn Volume II- Chapter 20

The 90-mile March

At the concentration point, Sviyagino, Colonel Morrow was busy preparing to move the troops to Ussuri. He was in command of the march which started on August 30, 1918.
The 90-mile trip north on foot proved to be one of the hardest experiences the men had while stationed in Siberia. From daylight to dark, with only two meals a day, they trudged on over hills, through sparse and deep woods, across marshes and swamps, and an interminable series of hills and dales. Tortuous walking was the pattern along with shoving and pushing mules and wagons most of the time. Before resting at night latrines had to be dug; the pup tents that had to be put up were so old that they leaked in the slightest rainfall. Often the men slept in slimy, muddy water. But before the rains fell, the sun had to be contended with. The day on which the march started it was wickedly hot.
The summer heat had left the road dry and dusty. The Americans had endured drills back in Manila where the sun often made breathing difficult. Their experience in Siberia was not too different. The beautiful harvest lands on either side of the road were dubbed the Manila rice paddies. Filipino songs were sung to keep spirits up.
The so-called roads consisted of ground between two ditches bridging the swamps. On many occasions straw from the wagons had to be used to fill in ruts. It was no simple matter to march, heave hay and push mules and wagons along while suffering from parched throats, dysentery and hunger. Canteens were emptied all too often.
The regiment had started out with baggage and ration wagons, ambulances and with native guides to show them the best route parallel to the railway. Unfortunately, when the guides found themselves lost they became frightened and simply disappeared. These strange new Americans with weird horses (mules) frightened the natives who feared punishment for getting lost. As the soldiers plowed on the sun climbed higher, aggravating their thirst, hunger and discouragement.
While there was beauty on either side of the road, the men were too exhausted to appreciate any of it.
In one area a strange, terribly nauseating odor assaulted the men and choked them beyond the heat alone. It was as though some awful gas engulfed them as they marched along. When a halt was finally called, the men dropped, inert against clumps of bushes by the side of the road. While “chow” looked good, some of the men decided to investigate the cause of the stench which seemed to emanate from beyond the bushes.
Suddenly the air was filled with oaths of profanity. There before them say heaps of dead bodies with mounds of cartridges everywhere. Later it was learned that a battle had taken place there between the Japanese and the Bolsheviks. The dreadful slaughter was the evidence.
Men stood stunned. Many regurgitated with abandon into the bushes, while unable to take their eyes off the sight. Unburied bodies with flesh burning in the hot midday sun were covered with swarms of large black flies. Other bodies, apparently killed more recently, still oozed blood. The sight sickened the very staunchest.
Most of the soldiers were already suffering from dysentery. The sight made their plight pitiable. Soon they turned their heads in an effort to avoid the sight and smell. They failed to notice the profusion of wild flowers amidst the carnage.
The Americans had been following on foot a Japanese armored train which was pursuing a trainload of Bolsheviks. The Japanese had thrown an artillery shell ahead of the Bolshevik train and had also torn up a bridge to trap it. The Bolsheviks were thus scattering across the countryside with the Japanese in hot pursuit. The latter had killed several hundred in one area and left the results that had so shocked the Americans.
As the doughboys wiped the sweat from their brows and from their hands they weakly made their way back; some hoped that what they had witnessed would somehow be obliterated from their memories. That was most unlikely to be the case.
Hungry as they had been, those who had not eaten could not do so; those who had lost everything with one great and awful spasm.
Most of the raw recruits came from sheltered American homes. They had been brought up to respect life and to love their neighbors; they had also been trained to observe good sportsmanship. Yet they did know that war was a dreadful thing and during war man murdered man, something the so-called lower animals never stoop to – kill their own kind in group battle. Nevertheless, to come upon that battlefield so unexpectedly in a field of God’s good earth with oats, wheat and flowers was too much. Some men wept openly.
One genteel young soldier from Georgia was literally shocked into insensibility. He was removed to an ambulance at once and eventually had to be sent back to the States.[i]
When men had regained some semblance of composure, their voices came in whispers. In that mangled pile of bloated corpses, lying in a mush of bone and flesh, men felt that what they had come to regard as civilization must have died there. There had been dead men on top of horses, dead horses on top of men, and flies thick and black everywhere.
“I can still smell the stench and see the sight when I think of it today over half a century later. It was appalling, dreadful and unbelievable.”[ii]
Eager to march again to get away from that battle field, the men fell into position. Many thoughts, however, dwelt on that spot.
The men noted that the boots of many corpses had been removed. “It must have
been dreadful to move amongst that slaughter to get much needed boots,” Nick Hochee commented. “I guess they must have needed those boots pretty bad to have been able to creep out there on that field with those horrible bodies and parts of bodies, and empty shells all about, to pull boots from those terrible inert legs.”
As the march proceeded, more and m ore men began to fall out. The older men found the grind the hardest. The ambulances were making their way back to Sviyangino with the dropouts.
The officers marched with the men and gained great respect for this. They permitted a few of the weaker to ride on the advanced ambulances for short lengths in order to give them a chance to regain their strength. Some were permitted to put heavy packs on the wagons which the mules were supposed to be hauling but which, oftener than not, were pulled by other men.
The soldiers marched in a column of twos. They covered a remarkable number of tortured miles by the time the heat forced them to rest again. Flesh had become puffy over shoe tops. It was a distinct effort simply to erect flimsy canopy tents that evening.
On the route the men sweated it out in throbbing discomfort, mouths agape revealing enlarged, dust-covered tongues. When pebbles were found, such were placed in the mouth the stimulate the flow of saliva. While the doughboys were slowly becoming veterans, their morale was at a low ebb; because of weakness, they found it difficult even to remain erect. And this was but the first day of many before they would reach Ussuri.
Some of the Americans envisioned the cool ponds and murmuring brooks of “home”. Some thought of the water they had wasted in their short lives. No one realized that such thoughts had filled the minds of soldiers for ages past — and ages yet to come.
Cliff Strohm, a mechanic with A Company, had joined the army when he became hungry back in California. He was born and raised in Cleveland. At the age of thirteen he began to work part time in a print shop. He liked it so well that lithography became his profession for life. However, in July 1916 he decided to see the west and made his way to California. He rode freight trains and stopped off whenever funds were needed. He worked on farms and in restaurants for a few dollars which would carry him to the next stopping point.
In San Francisco there were no jobs available. Strohm was in a quandary; he decided to enlist in the army in order to have steady room and board. Subsequently he saw service in the Philippines from whence he left for Siberia. As a company mechanic he was soft for he had been excused from all drills and hikes in the Philippines in order to perform his mechanical chores. He had been kept busy repairing rifles and equipment and in assisting the supply sergeant in making, painting and loading shipping cases for the next move.
Strohm remarked: “Can you imagine excusing a soldier from drills and marches and then sending him on that terrible hike to Ussuri?”
In addition to being unfamiliar with hiking, Strohm had to carry an awkward range finder which bruised his legs and body. His equipment weighed 90 pounds!
On the first day of the hike to Ussuri he dreamed of a soft cot at eventide and of soft green grass. But, he stated that when they stopped he was chosen for latrine detail and was put to work digging trenches and making cover.[iii]
This sort of duty had to be performed on every day of the hike, rain or shine. When the pup tents were pitched the men would peel off their shoes, bate their feet if there was water available and bandage blisters. Foot inspection had become a nightly ritual. For some of the men, the light shoes had lasted for only a part of the first day. It was difficult to say whether the marchers wanted most to sleep, eat or drink. In any case, they were happy when the old corned beef, hardtack and coffee was doled out at night.[iv]
On the first night Asa Williams found himself on guard duty. The cook had forgotten him after feeding the other men. “That was one of the real sad experiences of my whole life — to miss supper that first day,” the soldier recalled.
Williams also recalled that he had drunk rain water from cow tracks. At the time, the Japanese had been drinking from cattle tracks so he decided to do the same thing. If it didn’t hurt them, why should it hurt him? Then Williams learned that the Japanese also ate dogs. He and three or four other doughboys thought that dog meat might be pretty good eating “so the other guys and I tried some but I didn’t like the taste as I didn’t eat much, although I was awfully hungry.”
Williams reported that he had been sick most of the time but kept going for to stop might have been disastrous. Some of the other men wondered if his water-drinking habits might not have caused his illness. Lawrence Nygard recalled an occasion on which Williams lay down in desperation on the road and again drank forbidden water. An officer who had spotted him, to get up at once. “Don’t you know that that water could be polluted and could kill you?”
“But sir, if I don’t drink it that’s going to kill me too.” Williams replied meekly. The officer shrugged and walked off.
A few yards beyond, the men found three dead Russian bodies by the side of the road. The water the Americans had been drinking was flowing past the cadavers. Williams stared; he felt sick at the sight and was sure that he would die there in that rutted road in Siberia.
On the march that first day the men had had plenty of time to digest the rumors that had arisen. When had the Japanese gone ahead in boxcars and left them to walk?
When the Americans had received word that the bridges ahead were out and that they would have to continue on foot they never foresaw what lay ahead. At that time the rest of the Japanese troops had been ordered to remain at Sviyagino until the damaged bridges were repaired. The curses that arose regarding the Japanese were halted when the Americans had to be reminded that these were our allies. A few horselaughs ensued.
“Allies, eh,” remarked a doughboy, “I’ll bet they will give us more trouble than the Russians before we are through.” His words were prophetic of events to come.[v]
At the time it was enough to know that the Japanese intended to wait at the siding for repairs and that the American ammunition and official cars had been taken over by the Japanese while the doughboys had to march in the blazing sun or the rain. Rage was felt by the Americans; they determined to beat the Japanese to their destination. In the spirit of competition, the men faced the challenge, not knowing that August 30, 1918 was to be just a beginning.
The doughboys soon felt thirst and dehydration as the day wore on. Adding to their misery, it was found that many of the men found themselves unable to urinate and, if at all, to find great pain and difficulty doing so.
The official report of the first day’s march stated that the roads were “excellent”.[vi] The doughboys had a different version.
The troops reached Nikitovka at 3:30 pm. They had covered but 13 miles, yet to many the march had become unendurable. Blister, infections and thin shoes used in the tropics had taken their toll. Sore muscles, dysentery and numerous bodily ailments were part of the misery.
Although the Yanks were glad to reach any site that indicated the possible end of the day’s journey, it was not long before they were ordered to the Monastery, another six miles to the east. Fortunately, the road was now good and a campsite awaited them supplied with water and wood.
The camp was made close to a small creek. However, the parched soldiers were forbidden to drink there until the water had been boiled and cooled. They watched with envy as the mules were permitted to drink from the creek.
By reveille on August 31, 1918, it was raining heavily. This overjoyed the men; but the rain was to last for three days and cause more agonies for all.
Breakfast of leftover hash, hardtack and coffee was eaten in the cold rain at Nikitovka. At 7 am the men were placed in a column of ours to continue.
As they marched along, the odor of the dead followed them. In one creek they saw a dead man and a dead horse. At another point a good deal of excitement resulted when it was found that a corporal was missing. After a search, the man was finally located.
In some locations the soldiers had to construct a corduroy road; then a bridge had to be strengthened to allow passage of the wagons and mules.
By the second day the Americans realized that the light two-wheeled carts of the Japanese were superior in this country to the heavy wagons of the A.E.F.[vii]
As the march progressed, the pace began to slow up. Many began to limp; some dropped out from sheer exhaustion. As the combat wagons were already overloaded, only a few lucky ones were able to hitch a ride. This practice was soon halted.
As the men became numbly accustomed to exhaustion, the stench of decaying bodies also did not disturb them as at first. They were learning the lessons. A mounted officer of the Japanese infantry had an orderly he needed run alongside on foot.
The Americans also learned much about the significance of rain. No one could climb in the muck that resulted. The unbearable dust clouds had turned to a sea of mud. In the marshy areas the wagons became so mired that the animals were no longer able to move in them. With the aid of manpower, supplies were finally jettisoned. The entire 27th carried hay, gathered on the way, to be used to build roads through the swamps.
Don Pequignot recalled that he could not but smile when he had seen the poor mules in those swamps. The animals had flaps placed over them. “They kicked so much mud over the flaps and over the whole rear clear to the waist that we couldn’t have got a gun out if it had been necessary. We had to wash both the mules and the guns.”
At each small village the officers had hoped to get food. They had arranged a system. As the Americans noted a few houses in a wide spot in the road, a Russian-speaking soldier would go ahead and start to talk loudly. In every case the village would seem deserted. In a loud, clear voice he would state: “We are Americans who have come from the other side of the world to help you. But now we are hungry. We will buy black break or cabbages or whatever you may have.” Over and over he would repeat his call. At one place a man came out timidly and said “You couldn’t come from the other side of the world, you would fall off.” The Americans had the good grace not to laugh. Instead, the man was told how they had travelled on a huge boat over great waters that separated their countries. They asked him the help them as friends.
The man listened intently. He asked more and more questions. Soon a few more people ventured forth and the soldier managed to buy a few staples. They again heard that the Japanese had preceded them and had taken all they could find.
“We are afraid of strangers,” the natives said. “The Japanese pretended to by our friends but they and the Bolsheviks took what they wanted and left nothing in return. Some of the raped and killed our women.”
As confidences grew, the villagers offered some food and took candy bars and other items in exchange. American money was of no use to the Russians.
As the men continued splashing through the rain, keeping their heads bowed to offset the sweeping gusts, they dwelled on their plight. And they had only just landed in this strange land. They had become plastered with mud; their feet had become grotesquely enlarged by the cloying stuff. Sometimes the ooze showed traces of blood.
Jesse Sheppard had been among the fortunate few who had not seen the battlefield the previous day. He reported: “On the evening of the second night I saw my first dead soldier killed in a skirmish. We had arrived in some little town and had managed to get some water to wash up with.
“It was there we met a British soldier from a Middlesex regiment who told us of the skirmish. He also spoke of the huge mosquitoes. I know he was not exaggerating as we had the same experience with the monsters. That night we were given a speech about not being taken prisoner. We fixed our bayonets to do some fighting but it didn’t come. The soldier I saw who was killed was a Russian. He had been felled by a skirmish party a short distance ahead and was left there all alone. I don’t even know if they ever buried him.”
When darkness descended, the woods took on the usual ominous appearance. No one knew where Bolsheviks might be lurking. It was a time for rumors in the ranks; and, as always, rumors were based upon ignorance of what lay ahead. The doughboys knew that a Bolshevik might be concealed in any house, haystack or tree. The wolf cries at night did not help to ease cases of taut nerves.
Accurate maps were not available. But then the men did not care too much about locations; they looked forward to reaching the next stop for rest. However, in spite of swollen feet, fatigue and dysentery, the hike continued.
Only eight miles were covered on the second day, chiefly through swampy terrain. Along the way logs and brush had been used to get the wagons over ruts and swamps. It was 7 pm when the column reached a passable camp site. It was 10 pm before chow was over. It had taken twelve long hours to make a mere eight miles. There had been no lunch. Again, foot ailments were most prevalent.
As the night wore on, pools of water formed everywhere. Men huddled in groups to keep as warm and dry as possible. They were exhausted and certainly looked a very sad army. The old pup tents leaked and mud oozed up to meet the drips from the canvas. The doughboys realized that after daylight they would again have to go on – over the apparently endless hills, woods and swamps. They knew that they were getting the best that could be offered under the circumstances. One man who was weakened by dysentery managed to get to the front rank amid the cheers of his buddies.
After a 6 am breakfast of sodden hardtack and rain-diluted coffee, the men prepared for the third day. As the troops were about to leave, an old Russian appeared, and, with a big grin, offered the men a large pan of tomatoes. He asked for no pay. Colonel Morrow uttered some profanity and kicked the pan out of the old man’s hands. He believed the tomatoes to be poisoned or they would not have been offered so freely.
It was 7:15 am on September 1st when the Americans left Renovka that third day of march.
Crossing a marsh some three miles wide, wagons again became mired. They were pulled along by means of ropes and manpower.
“Wonder if we will get out of these stinking marshes when we reach those hills,” mused one doughboy. Another replied disconsolately: “Maybe the climbing will be worse.”
As the men marched on, their shoes squished mud with weird, gurgling sounds. One soldier after shaking a mass of muddy slime from his feet, laughed sardonically. “When I think how I used to cuss a dry spell down on the farm. . .” Some of his buddies understood.
The ten-minute rest period during each hour was eagerly awaited. The doughboys would sit in a ditch with their packs against the berm of the roadside, wipe their filthy, unshaven faces and swat at the huge swamp mosquitoes. Tired, hungry and disgruntled, they cussed the world in general and Russia in particular.
The wagons streamed with water; mules and men dripped and stank. Besides, man and beast shivered in the cold wind blowing with cold rain. There were two thoughts paramount; the march would end and no matter how hot it might get, the sun would surely shine again.
Making headway was a slow process always. Trees had to be cut to build the ever necessary corduroy roads to carry the field pieces and the combat wagons. Much equipment was damaged or broken; much was simply left behind to lighten the loads. A supply company had its wagons and a hospital company and an ambulance. Each company had its own company equipment. The men had to carry their own personal effects.
It had become accepted that the march would be a dawn-to-dusk assignment. Shoes had so disintegrated that progress had been seriously hampered. For many men it was an effort to keep up; to be left behind might prove disastrous.
Frequently the mules had to be unhitched and their places taken by the exhausted soldiers who had to pull the wagons out of the mud. Finally, the troops had to abandon the “road” to set out for terrain that would lead them to a railway.
The soldiers marched on with haunting memories of that first stench-laden battlefield. Most little villages were ghost towns, silent, empty, dead. As a village was encountered, the men would call out hopefully. Always now, silence.
Morale of the troops was not of the highest. Two mules literally walked themselves to death. Men continued to grow weaker and increasingly discouraged. When the sun had blazed down on the first day the men had bitched. Now in the rain, the picture had changed, and for the worse. Many a man recalled his raincoat hanging on the kitchen door at home; then there was the old fireplace where he could warm himself after his work outdoors.
The “road” showed the ravages of war. Left and right lay the bodies of fallen soldiers. Often at night the Americans were forced to bury bodies to find an area to pitch their tents. It was not a pleasant task for men who had spent a day hiking on that terrible terrain.
The machine gun company had nearly reached the limit of its tolerance. One man stumbled into a bee hive. As the swarm assailed him a few laughs were heard. Another good target for the bees was Tony Klepatska, the Russian interpreter. Stumbling and waving his arms, he struck out in all directions. When he attempted to cast off his pack he became entangled and became a helpless victim. Elmer Moe and another man went to help him. For their consideration, the received the attention of the bees too. Tony was finally extricated. The bees were undaunted. They began to attack the mules who kicked and bellowed and sought relief in flight. Some of the mules were loaded with kitchen equipment. Moe told it this way: “The mules started down the road, kicking in every direction. The men opened up a line of each side with almost precision force to make way; if they had not they would have been trampled upon. The mules forged on clanking the equipment and strewing it as they went everywhere. It was a sight I shall never forget.”
There was further excitement when a German sympathizer started to sound off. Although he was now a soldier in the United States Army, he could not resist expressing his thoughts. Eventually he was court-martialed and sentenced to hard labor. but perhaps this was better than marching through Russian swamps!
When it came time to line up the pup tents the doughboys found that, even with the use of bayonets, the terrain prevented maintaining any alignment. Not to be defeated, they scooped out shallow trenches around the perimeters of the tents. This improved the drainage.
Once the tents were pitched, chores done and chow over, the men felt better. Since there was no means of relieving tensions, the men lay down and attempted to sleep on the deeply scored ground. The city men suffered most.
“We had marched along like wet dish rags,” said Don Pequignot. “We rolled blankets tight on our backs and trudged on. I cut my shoe on a broken glass bottle. That night I found a pair of shoes in the potatoes. They belonged to Colonel Miller. Although they fit me perfectly I figured I should return them to the Colonel. I nearly fainted when he told me to keep them.”
The men used twigs and branches in an attempt to make a fire; this was not a success at all. By 10 pm there was the usual drizzle and the leaking tents.
At 2:20 pm that third day the Americans had reached their next stopping point, Uspanka. They had covered but ten miles. In spite of the early hour, a halt had been called much to the relief of the men. They considered the site “a hell of a place for a camp” but were glad that the day’s tramping was over. Event he brief official report termed the roads “very poor (swamps).”
That night some of the soldiers began pacing back and forth; they felt like trapped animals with unfilled stomachs and wet bodies.
As the doughboys arose to reveille at 6 am on September 2, 1918, a light rain was still falling at Uspenka. They had the usual breakfast before they headed out due west for the railroad. They broke camp at 7:15 am and marched toward a town called Ordejevka. During the day they passed through wild grass and some buckwheat fields. The rain had let up for which there was much gratefulness.
According to some reports the Americans reached Ordejevka at 11:30 am; others stated that it was at 1:30 pm. They had marched another ten miles. The spot was a good mile or two from any wood or water.
At this time Morrow wired Headquarters at Vladivostok that the march was proceeding according to schedule. He expected to reach Ussuri at 10 am on September 4th. Rations were getting scanty. The Yanks hated the hardtack which was full of weevils by now. Perhaps they had forgotten the stories of their grandfathers who fought in the Civil War. Emory Todd had this comment to make: “We would knock the hardtack until almost all of the weevils were out and then dump the hardtack in the coffee quick. It was the only way some men could take it or they would starve.” Todd also recalled: “Our feet were inspected by the medic as there was no doctor. Blisters were taped up. I was one of the lucky few who didn’t get blisters. However, my feet were suffering something dreadful. I had a lot of dysentery too but managed to be in the front rank when we finished the hike. The older men suffered the most. We carried our rifle and bayonet and each of us had 100 rounds of ammunition and an emergency pack of hardtack, bacon and coffee.”
Lawrence Nygard related one of his experiences on the hike. He had enlisted in 1915 and served in Texas City before he was sent to Vladivostok and found himself on the unforgettable 90-mile march.
One day on the march, to lighten his load, he placed some gear on a wagon. As he was hungry, he looked about and spied a pack of emergency rations. “I swiped it,” he related, “and devoured the entire contents in a few gulps — hardtack and bacon. When I think of it today, I still get indigestion.”
By nighttime Nygard was again hungry so he went for his own rations. They were gone! “I guess someone else got hungry too. Anyway, God punished me. I got nothing but coffee that night.”
Sometimes appetites were forgotten. Nick Hochee told of the time they stopped to eat. Again another heap of bodies was discovered. This time the corpses were piled like cordwood upon a new battlefield.
The state of the roads, the weather, the food and other incidentals seemed to have become blurred in the memories of many of the men who were on that hike. There was some recollection that near the end of the hike the Americans were able to buy some chickens, field corn and potatoes. This was an unforgettable event. One morning oat mush and sugar, without mile, seemed like a banquet.
The men who were most unprepared for the hike, and so fearful of being left behind, came marching in a sort of coma. During the last leg of the march they passed yet another battlefield. Here were trenches with dead Russians who had been killed by the Japanese. The fact that the bodies for some reason had been stacked more neatly, made the sight no less revolting.
One doughboy observed that, while the natives along he route were suspicious of the Americans, their attitude changed after they found the soldiers most friendly. “When the Americans first arrived the natives threw up their hands. ‘This is the end,’ they said. ‘Now we will have nothing left.’ But an officer approached a farmer regarding some newly mowed hay for the men to make their beds on. He produced a roll of money from his money belt to pay for it. The farmer was stunned. It was soon learned that, although the money could not buy them anything, the Americans were willing to purchase or trade. At least they were not taking everything from the people. . .”[viii]
One report indicated that camp was made at a spot two miles beyond a monastery but said nothing about a river. Another mentioned that they camped at the bank of the Ussuri, on open ground, and were glad to have left the marshlands behind. The wild grass was knee-deep and the terrain had become hilly en route. Everyone seemed happy and, as the weather was warm, most of the men went swimming. This was not only a good form of recreation but offered a means of removing the accumulated muck of the march.
Some men had been sent ahead to forage for food. Food was waiting for the troops at their destination. The quantity was not great, but the fare consisted of beef, potatoes and cabbage. The mule teams had very little to eat.
Reports indicated that small bridges had been repaired, trestles were in order and all trains were now running.
Along the route, when the men managed to speak through an interpreter to the least fearful of the Russian natives, the Americans were astonished to learn that much of the natives’ fears of the Americans arose from the fact that they were white skinned and had light hair. A negro American, who had lived in Siberia had spread the rumor that all the Americans were dark skinned as he was. The natives began to wonder where the white men really came from.
At times in the evenings when fires were built, a few natives would wander in and gather around to hear the doughboys sing American songs. These Russians listened and laughed in their subdued, grave manner.
The Americans were always happy to find people in a village. Often they had heard that the Japanese had shelled village churches and frightened the natives away. One monastery had been shelled to ruins because the Japanese thought that it might be an observation point.
As the Yanks neared Ussuri, they were happy to be out of the wilderness. They were dirty, tired and hungry as they arrived at Ussuri at 3:30 pm on September 4th after making nearly 14 long miles from Tikamanavo. Before arriving, however, a most unusual event occurred. Dragging themselves along …( ?????? check the books original text. unreadable)
….uld be coming along any minute, the band sent out its greetings to its buddies!
Since ancient days, no soldier was not inspired by music. The transformation that took place in the ranks hiking into Ussuri was heartfelt. When the band struck up “The Stars and Stripes Forever” the dispirited men held their hands a little higher, and their step was suddenly animated. More than one man could be seen with glistening tears upon his cheeks. Here was music from home!
The British, who had already arrived at Ussuri after fighting the battle of Kraevski, also helped to welcome the Americans. The British band struck up with “God Save the King.” The Americans were most pleased and surprised; the local inhabitants were somewhat stunned. Perhaps they had never heard the British and American anthems.
At any rate, the musical reception spurred on the weary heroes. They approached Ussuri with lighter hearts than they had known for some time.

At Ussuri –

The Americans were exuberant with the spirit of good fellowship which had overwhelmed them when they were met by the welcoming sounds of the 31st Infantry band and the greeting from the British contingent. In spite of the hardships they had endured, everything suddenly seemed right. When the rain ceased at noontime and the stillness of the atmosphere seemed to hush the possibility of further frustrations, the men of the 27th felt relaxed for the first time in many days.

Soon the marchers learned that the rumors which they had heard about the Japanese were basically true. The Japanese officers had indeed waited at Sviagino until the tracks were repaired in order that their own troops could travel to Ussuri in comparative comfort while the Americans had trudged for days through the muck and mire of that long hike. The joy of arrival was soon tempered by a great surge of angry indignation.
The American officers were concerned about the impression the bedraggled army would have upon its entrance into Ussuri. Men were ordered to spruce up. The doughboys paid little attention. Much grumbling and swearing were heard. IF their officers could be so outwitted by the Japanese, they were damned if they were going to do much to please them. One Yank commented: “We probably looked worse than we felt and there stood those damned grinning Japs all along the way.”[ix]
The Americans reached the Ussuri River at about 3 pm and established a campsite on open ground on the south bank of the river. As soon as the camp site was set there was a mad rush to jump into the river for bathing and washing clothing. Firstly, there was much water consumed by the dehydrated soldiers.
The final leg of the hike had been one of the cruelest ordeals. The men knew that their destination was close at hand and yet it took all their energies to reach it. This poem expressed how the men felt.
(With apologies to Kipling)
If you can hold your head up while the others
Are drooping theirs from marches and fatigue;
If you can drill in dust that clouds and smothers,
And still be fit to hike another league;
If you can stand the greasy food and dishes,
The long black nights, the lonesome road, the blues,
If you can choke back all the gloomy wishes
For home that seem to spring right from your shoes;
If you can laugh at sick call and the pill boys,
When all the other lads are checking in;
If you can kid and jolly all the kill-joys,
Whose faced long ago forgot to grin;
If at parade you stand fast at attention
When every muscle shrieks aloud with pain;
If you can grin and snicker at the mention
Of some bone play connected with your name;
If you succeed to keep your knees from knocking,
At the thoughts of all the bullets you may stop;
If you can do these things and really like ’em
You’ll be a regular soldier yet, old top.[x]

The shoes of most of the men were in a deplorable state. The thought of a swim was delighted, especially to relieve aching feet. “Of course we were cautioned not to drink the water but it is funny how the river went down after we all went in swimming.”[xi]

It did not take the hospital train long to fill up with twenty-five men in the worst physical or mental condition. They were taken back to the hospital.[xii]
In spite of the debility of some of the men, the Regimental Commander was pleased with the high caliber of endurance of most of his troops. The Commander is reported to have stated: “I took my troops through those awful swamps and never actually lost a single man. Yet, as soon as they got into camp they started to drop like flies.”[xiii]
At 6 pm, less than three hours after the troops arrived, orders were received from General Oi that the Americans were to remain at Ussuri until further orders. Apparently, the 27th Infantry had successfully completed an almost impossible mission much sooner than the Japanese had anticipated.
The troops were laid over for about a week. The mules as well as the men were in poor condition and needed attention. The doughboys had cleared the ground quite thoroughly. They had even buried dead bodies which strewed the site. In spite of everything, the new campsite was heaven compared to what the doughboys had endured during the previous week. The men began to sing, play games. They were thankful not to be pushing and pulling mules and wagons out of the Siberian mud. One day there was much excitement in camp when one of the men bought a small barrel from a farmer. He assumed that it was full of vodka. Soon he was surrounded by his buddies who were prepared to have a drinking spree. To their chagrin the barrel proved to be full of honey! The men subdued their disappointment by spreading their hardtack with the sweet, sticky contents.
The outwardly imperturbable spirit of the American doughboy on the first day seemed to astound The Russians, Japanese, British, Czecho-Slovaks and Chinese. All were amazed and puzzled that the Americans had been able to endure so much and still keep going. For weary as they were, the doughboys fought hunger and exhaustion and showed only relief to be out of the wilderness. More than one Wolfhound recalled this prayer, especially when they lay their weary heads down at Ussuri:

A Soldier’s Prayer

Now I lay me down to sleep
I pray the Lord my gun to keep;
Grant no other soldiers take
My socks or shoes before I wake.
Lord please guard me in my slumber
And keep this cot upon its lumber.
Let no peg or guy rope break,
Nor the tent blow down before I wake.
Grant no fire drills sound at night
And in the morning let me wake
Breathing scents of sirloin steak.
God protect me in my dreams
And make it better than it seems.
Grant the time may swiftly fly
When I myself may rest on high.
Deliver me from work and drills
And when I’m sick don’t feed me pills;
And should I hurt this hand of mine,
Don’t dab it o’er with iodine.
In a snowy, downy feather bed
There I long to rest my head,
Far away from all camp scenes,
And from the smell of pork and beans.
Take me back into the land
Where I can walk without a band.
Where no thrilling bugle blows,
And where the women wash the clothes.

In spite of fervent prayers, all requests were not answered. The men still slept in leaky pup tents. Candles were doled out; some retarded the drips in the tents by holding a lighted candle over wet spots. They found that the heat dried the canvas and helped to stop the drips. But water still seeped under the tents and men often slept in puddles. Raincoats were used as flaps for the tents. However, the men were so tired that they slept through everything. There were times when they awoke to find that the water below them had frozen. They were literally obliged to rip themselves out of their iced blankets.

Both British and American soldiers recalled meeting each other on the banks of the Ussuri and fraternizing amiably. Some of the Americans remembered that while they were eating their slum, the British were frying ham and brewing tea.
The doughboys were relieved to know that they would stay in one place, at least for a few days. It was good not to be out on the ‘road’ and in the rain. Rations were increased and improved. The soldiers were given many chores to keep them active. One of their duties was to bury a mule.
Via the grapevine the Americans had heard that more troops had landed in Vladivostok and that General Graves was now in Siberia.
Many a Yank felt that it was high time for this arrival.
The Commander-in-Chief had indeed landed at Vladivostok on Labor Day, September 2, 1918.
[i]William C. Boggs, 27th Inf.
[ii]Clifford E. Strohm, Co. A, 27th Inf.
[iii]Clifford E. Strohm
[iv]Clifford E. Strohm; Nick Hochee, 27th Inf.
[v]George P. Billick, Co. A, 27th Inf.
[vi]Packard’s report
[vii]Priest’s Medical Report, WDNA
[viii]Henry C. Fry, Quartermaster Corps. Fry was not on the hike but got many details about it from those who took part.
[ix]Clifford E. Strohm
[x]Submitted by David G. Moore, Evacuation Hospital No. 17
[xi]Lawrence Nygard, Co. M, 27th Inf.
[xii]Priest’s Medical Report, WDNA
[xiii]Don Pequignot, Machine Gun Co., 27th Inf.
[xiv]Supplied by several enlisted men
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