Less than a year after the Armistice that ended World War I was signed the residents of Hellertown and Lower Saucon Township devoted a day to honoring the men who had recently returned home, along with five native sons who sadly didn’t.
One of those five men was Edward H. Ackerman, after whom the Hellertown post of the American Legion is named.
The following article about the “Welcome Home” day was published in The Morning Call on Sept. 2, 1919.
More than a century later, the Saucon Valley community continues to recognize the military service of its sons and daughters with its Hometown Heroes flag program.
Editor’s Note: If anyone reading this has or knows of a copy of the group photograph taken outside the Park Hotel and referenced in the story below–and would be interested in sharing it with our community of readers–please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
HELLERTOWN PAID TRIBUTE TO SOLDIERS
Planted Memorial Trees in Honor of Five Who Made Supreme Sacrifice
The citizens of Hellertown and Lower Saucon Saturday honored their heroic service men with a Welcome Home demonstration, warm and effusive, the weather to the contrary notwithstanding. Hellertown has been patriotically agog since nine o’clock Saturday morning when the celebration began, and continued until the singing of the final word of the Star Spangled Banner, at the closing session in the evening.
Eighty-five service men gathered at I.O.O.F. Hall at 9 o’clock and, with Lt. Clarence Clark as officer in charge, marched to the beautiful lawn adjoining the Park House where a group photograph was taken, the service men again lined up, and led by the Hellertown Band and four Civil War veterans in an automobile driven by Paul Trumbower, they paraded to Cross Roads and return.
Leading the ranks of the service men were three young men representing three great branches of the U.S. service, Stanley Eisenhart, Hellertown’s only marine, Arthur Frankenfield, sailor and Warren Heffner, a member of the ambulance corps. The latter has not yet been discharged, being retained in the service at General Hospital No. 3, Rahway, N.J.
Conspicuous among the group of service men, everyone of whom looked fit and fine, was a tall, well formed young man wearing two crosses upon his chest. He is Lloyd Kilpatrick, of Lower Saucon township, and the medals he won are the American Distinguished Service Cross and the Croix de Guerre. Soldier Kilpatrick won his honors at Vieville on Haye, France, having acted as runner during an offensive and having undergone serverest barrages. The Distinguished Service Cross was pinned upon his chest by General John J. Pershing himself.
Upon the return of the parade to Hellertown, the exercises on the athletic field were begun. General Chairman Titus M. Ruch being in charge. Rev. Geo. B. Hamm, pastor of Christ Reformed congregation, said the invocation which was followed by an address of welcome by Prof. William D. Landis. John L. Waidner responded in behalf of the service men.
Chief Burgess Franklin Sutton whose son, Russell was in the naval service, presented the boys with the handsome bronze medals, the gift of the appreciative citizens, bearing the following inscription on the obverse side: “U.S. Forces, Borough of Hellertown, incorporated March 26, 1872.” And on the reverse: “Presented by the citizens of Hellertown, Pa. and Lower Saucon township in grateful recognition of patriotic services in the World War, 1917-1918.”
Nearest relatives of the five young men who gave up their lives will receive similar medals containing a gold star.
The morning program was concluded with the singing of “Auld Lang Syne,” after which the service men were entertained at a sumptuous dinner.
For the afternoon a program of games and races, including a baseball game between Palmer A.A. of Easton, and Hellertown, had been arranged, and if the weather proved propitious these events will already have been held when this paper goes to press. A supper for the service men followed the athletic program.
At 7 o’clock in the evening began the saddest and most impressive of the exercises of the day, the dedication of memorial trees to the honor of Edward Ackerman, Henry Schaeffer, Howard Strohl, John Leary and John Zimmerman, the five Hellertonians who lost their lives. The trees, white oak, were planted last Thursday. Congressman H. J. Steele and President Judge R.C. Stewart, both of Easton, made the addresses. Following this program there was a concert by the Hellertown Band and dancing until 11 p.m. when the memorable day was brought to a close.
About this column: Olden Days is a regular Saucon Source series in which newspaper clippings in the public domain are used to highlight area news from the early 1900s.