World War I on the home front

Jamestown and Stutsman County prepare for war during the Fourth of July 1918.

JSSP Keith Norman Column Sig

The preparations for war brought challenges even for the homemakers of Stutsman County in 1918.

The United States had become involved in the Great War, now known as World War I, in 1917, but the largest part of the mobilization of troops and materials came in 1918.

Making sure the troops had enough supplies required some new regulations on the home front. One of those rules came to play in the kitchens of farmhouses and city residents alike.

Sugar was considered a necessity for the troops and the war effort.


That meant rationing of the sweet stuff which raised a problem for the women who were planning on canning fruit and making jelly for later use.

According to an article in The Jamestown Alert in June of 1918, any person needing additional sugar for the canning and making preserves needed to make an application to the people who administered the rationing program. They were required to estimate how much sugar they would need. They would then be issued the proper permits to buy 25 pounds of sugar at a time.

The home canner would also have to sign a document certifying that all the sugar would be used for making preserves. This may have been an attempt to prevent the sugar from being used to make moonshine, although that is not mentioned in the article.

There were other changes as part of the war effort.

Wool was evidently an important commodity for the military. The United States government required the entire 1918 wool crop. Farmers made arrangements for selling the material through the local county agents.

Then there was the Stutsman County Council of Defense. Despite the name, the local residents didn’t have any fear a German U-boat would suddenly appear on Spiritwood Lake or the county would sustain some other form of attack.

The organization did take responsibility for planning the Fourth of July celebration which would help boost morale in the community. Council members sent out the word that every small town in the county should hold an Independence Day celebration to make sure as much of the county as possible participate.

Celebrating the Fourth of July, with or without fireworks depending on the fire conditions, is still the patriotic thing to do now, 103 years later.


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