The War to End All Wars: Patriotism and Fervor.

"If every city in the country could present a record of response as admirable as that of Fort Wayne, there would be no occasion to doubt the spirit of the Republic."--Journal-Gazette

Over There!: Fort Wayne's Boys are on their way.

Not since the American Civil War has the citizens of Fort Wayne shown such patriotic fervor than at the onset of the Great War against Germany. When Congress declared War against the German Empire on April 6th 1917, the whole of Fort Wayne went to war as well. No other city in the nation surpassed Fort Wayne in enrollment of recruits. Only a month after the announcement of war, the City had achieved 75 percent of their recruitment quota. It seemed the declaration of loyality became very apparent due to the amount of German heritage thoughout the city. The lack of patriotism could lead one to believe that loyality to Germany or the Kaiser was more important. Therefore, it was extremely important in Fort Wayne for everyone of all races,age, and gender to show an overwhelming excitement for the Stars and Stripes. Over the next few years, the City of Fort Wayne and surrounding area would go out of its way to prove itself to the rest of the country, and the world.

This patriotism was very evident durning the celebration of Lexington Day on April 19th, 1917. The celebration commemorated the one hundred and forty-second anniversary of the battle of Lexington that sparked the war for independence. The ceremony was led by a Paul Revere impersonator. This was followed by the Concordia College cadets and the various Company soldiers recruited locally to fight in the Great War. High school cadets,Boy Scouts, Red Cross girls, and Rotary Club members also joined in the parade. The parade lasted for just over an hour and disbanded at the corner of West Main and Webster Streets. At this point an American flag was raised and a speech pleading for the passing of a resolution that would require all suitable men to register for military service.

As Batteries B and D left for formal training at Fort Benjamin Harrison in Indianapolis, local organizations were formed to support the troops back home. Many veterans from past wars, and other men not fit to fight in Europe formed groups like the Allen County Home Guard and the Motor Reserve Corps. The women of Allen County did their part by vounteering in the Fort Wayne Red Cross Chapter.

The selective conscription registration went into effect on June 5th of that same year. More than seven thousand men who had not entered the military to this point were registered for selective draft. On July 20th a conscription lottery was held to determine these boys fate. Men lined up in front of bulletinboards checking to see if they were chosen to serve. The new national army required Fort Wayne to provide 383 men of the 490 required in Allen County.

Liberty Bonds and other fundraising help push Fort Wayne into the spotlight again. The Catholic War Fund and the Y.M.C.A. War Fund were great examples of how Allen County fought on the homefront. With all the patriotism and support also came a darker side to the War effort.

The registration of illegal Aliens of German heritage created suspicion and misunderstanding in the eyes of Fort Wayne citizens. German immigrants who had not completed the process to become American citizens were required to register with the Office of Special Deputy. The permit allowed the holder to continue to reside within one-half mile of their employment. The permit required a picture identification, and files were held at the Special Deputy offices. Exempt from the provisons were clergyman,firemen, and citizens coming and going from local church services. The bitter outcry against German heritage changed Fort Wayne forever. No longer would it be called "a most German town".

The "Birdboy" of Fort Wayne: Stunt Pilot Art Smith.

Nobody took command of the airways of Fort Wayne like Art Smith. The "Birdboy of Fort Wayne" as he was called, was considered one of the world's all-time master of flight. Born in 1890, the Fort Wayne native took to his passion early having witnessed a flight while vacationing on Lake James. The year was 1910 and Smith had been bitten by the aviation bug to an extreme. His parents fronted him the money to built his first homemade airplane. After completing the final adjustments to his new machine, he rolled it out to what is now Memorial Park to make a test flight. Tragedy struck when he lost control of the plane and was badly injured. After his long recovery, Smith rebuilt his plane and was determined to make history in Fort Wayne. With a few minor adjustments he made a brief flight from Fort Wayne to nearby New Haven. Realizing his true passion, he continued to perfect his flying skills. By 1915 Art Smith had earned his wings as a professional stunt pilot. He performed in the 1915 World Exposition and was the orginator of the "loop-the-loop" and the art of skywriting. In 1916 he traveled to Japan to perform in an airshow. The crowds were amazed at his skill in such a dangerous sport. Durning the War, Art served in the Army as a Aviation Trainer and instructed many of the boys going into combat overseas. In 1923 Aviator Smith became one of the first pilots to join the United State Mail Service. This was a formiable job considering the different weather conditions in which he had to fly. By 1926 fate had caught up with him. While on a night flight over Montpelier, Ohio Art's plane was forced down, and he was killed. The "Birdboy of Fort Wayne" will always be remembered as the city's first true aviator. His monument can be found in Memorial Park, the first place he took to flight.

Fort Wayne's Famous Ace: The Paul Baer Story.

Paul Baer, Fort Wayne native, was one of the finest pilots of World War One. Baer was actually the first American Ace of the war. He won that distinction by shooting down five German planes while flying for the famous Lafayette Escadrille, a french squadron. Baer went on to shoot down eight enemy planes often in fights where he was greatly outnumbered. Toward the end of the War Paul Baer was shot down behind enemy lines, and spent the duration of the war in a prison camp. Pilots of the Great War, especially aces, were well respected by both sides. Consequently, as prisoners were treated quite well.

As his father recalls, Paul was "the most timid of the four children". His character was more of a reserved type. After returning home from the War, he tended to be more withdrawn, suffering the horrors of war. Many said his demeanor seemed more cynical than before. Paul seemed reluctant to participate in festivities in which he was honored. He even refused to attend the dedication of the airport named in his honor.

Nevertheless, Baer continued to further the usefullness of avaition. He participated in test flights on new, state-of-the-art aircraft for developers. He was a pioneer in organizing air mail routes throughout the world. He worked for several years in South America developing their mail carrier routes. In 1930, while establishing mail routes in Southern China, Paul Baer was killed while trying to navigate the difficult terrain. His lost was mourned by all of Fort Wayne. His achievements in the art of flight are unparalleled. Paul Baer is considered one of the most dedicated pilots in avaition history.

A tribute to Aviator Art Smith in Memorial Park.

Many American newspapers protrayed the Germans as "hungry killers" that would stop at nothing to conquer the World. This helped heighten the anti-german cause, and ultimately land the United States in a world war.

Paul Baer had the destinction of being the first American Ace of World War I. A Fort Wayne native,Baer's contributions are remembered with the namimg of Baer Airport in 1925. (Now Smith Field) Later his name was given to the U.S. Military Base on the south side of Fort Wayne. (Now Baer Field and Fort Wayne International Airport) Picture, Courtesy of Allen County Public Library.

The World War One Memorial at the entrance of Memorial Park is a tribute to the heroes of the war.

Maumee-Wabash Portage: The Glorious Gate.
Fort Miamis: The First European Settlers
Historic Fort Wayne: The Great American Outpost
Wabash and Erie Canal:The Great Waterway.
Johnny Appleseed: The Pioneer Spirit
The American Civil War: Fort Wayne's Soldiers.
Arrival Of Locomotives:The Canal's Demise.
The Rise of Industry: Fort Wayne's Revolution.
The Management of Progress:The Prewar Years.
The Promise of Hope: The Depression Years.
Great Strides in Industry: World War Two.
High School Proms & Cherry Sodas: The Fifties.
The Coming of Age: Fort Wayne in the Sixties.
The Rebirth of Fort Wayne History: The Seventies.
A new Sense of Direction & Growth: The Eighties.
The Bicentennial of Fort Wayne: 200 Years of Prosperity.
The Year 2000: Reflections and Great Expectations.

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Last updated 01/18/2003

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