Christmas 1917

Camp Zachary Taylor was open for only a few months before the winter of 1917. Thanksgiving had just past, but the coldest December on record was on it’s way. Christmas was a cold and snowy one. December of 1917 still holds the record for the snowiest and coldest in Louisville.


Christmas Tree in the YMCA Auditorium on Poplar Level Road, 1917.

Days leading up to Christmas in 1917 saw the coldest temperatures ever recorded in December. December 8th was neg. 1, December 9th was neg. 6, December 10th was neg. 4 and December 11th was neg.3 degrees. These four consecutive dates still hold the record for the coldest temps on those dates.


Barracks at Camp Zachary Taylor during the record cold and snowy winter of 1917-1918

The unusual cold weather continued through the month of December 1917 and into January 1918, with the record coldest date for January occurring on January 12, 1918, where it reached -15 below zero. The photo above was taken around that date, and mentions -18 degrees, which it might have been, away from the city.

1917 also hold the record for the most snow fall ever recorded in the month of December, which was 13.6″. The winter of 1917-1918 still hold the record of the most snow in one season, which is 50.2″. It crippled the camp, and the city. Not much moved unless it was mule drawn, as you can see in this photo of soldiers trying to get a team out to the main road, right after one of the snow storms.


Merry Christmas!

The History of Camp Zachary Taylor – Part 4 – “The Pride and Flower of the Young Manhood of the Nation”

Louisville Kentucky

1911 Map of The City of Louisville, Ky. population 230,000

1911 Map of The City of Louisville, Ky.                                                   copyright CZTHS 2016
population 230,000

In the spring of 1917, The City of Louisville was successful in winning the bid from the War Department, to build the Mid-West Cantonment in Louisville. But there were some conditions attached. Louisville, like many urban areas in the US, had it’s problems. The Temperance Leagues were waging a battle with alcohol sales, and brothels were commonplace in just about every city.

The members of the Board of Trade had some foresight into the problems that accompanied installations of this type. They were very enthusiastic about reporting on the City’s ability to manage any situation that may arise. georgefarmhandsThey were aware that the city had it’s issues, and that the new facility could attract even more undesirables, who would prey on the new recruits. Some of the young men, whom have not been more than five miles home until being drafted, had never been exposed to any of the these vices while living on the farm.

On May 7, 1917, The Board of Trade made assurances in their proposal to the War Department, that everything will be done to clean up the city in preparation of the arrival of these fine young men.

The Special Committee for the Board wrote the following:

Louisville has the most excellent City Government. The Mayor and officials are men of family and reputation who feel a deep sense of responsibility for the welfare of the population who largely own their own homes. These officials of the city do not hesitate to acknowledge the obligation that rests upon them, in joining in this request to the Federal Government to place in this neighborhood the pride and flower of the young manhood of the Nation, to protect their inexperience as far as possible from the temptations that must naturally pursue such camps. The Police Force of Louisville is well trained and officered and desirous of making a record before the country in this regard.


Louisville Mayor John H. Buschemeyer

Louisville Mayor John H. Buschemeyer

Two years earlier in 1915, the Mayor of Louisville, Hon. John H. Buschemeyer appointed a “Vice Commission” to look into, and make recommendations as to how to eliminate or control the prostitution and “Red Light” districts in the city.

Report of The Vice Commission Louisville, KY 1915

Report of The Vice Commission
Louisville, KY 1915

Almost every city had a Red Light district, and Louisville was no exception. Although the commission had published a report, and made its recommendations on how to eradicate the “problem”, none of the recommendations were implemented. The Mayor, who appointed the commission, was not in favor or shutting down the brothels. An ordinance passed by the General Council on March 1, 1915 was the vehicle that started the beginning of the end of the brothels. The Mayor was very much a supporter of the establishments, and felt that the city could regulate them and considered them A necessary evil. The commission had no powers to implement the plan or take any legal action to eliminate prostitution.


When the proposal to build Camp Zachary Taylor came to becoming a reality, so did the question of the prostitutes. In 1917, President Woodrow Wilson and Federal Government formed the “Commission on Training Camp Activities” (CTCA). The Commission’s first official act was the prevention of venereal disease among the American Troops. This started at home, in the new Training Camps. The CTCA also envisioned the broader possibility of more wide sweeping social change.

Newton D. Baker, US Secretary of War, 1916-1921

Newton D. Baker, US Secretary of War, 1916-1921

Mayor John H. Buschemeyer, an advocate of regulated prostitution, sent Secretary of War, Newton D. Baker, a statement of his opinion about the role of segregated vice in Louisville. He wrote:

“I do not deem it proper, practical nor advisable in my humble judgment, to close these houses and disseminate these women through the orderly self-respecting and decent people and neighborhoods of the community, but realize that with strict surveillance we can control them absolutely with our police power, believing that regulation is the best method of handling this vast and aged problem”.

The Commission on Training Camp Activities was responsible for the physical health of the men in uniform. They took this crusade that the President had assigned to them; “To mold a New American Fighting Man to the cities that would house them. The commission set out to reinforce the characteristics of the New American Army to be “fit and straight in everything and pure and clean through and through”. The Mental, Moral and Physical Manhood of the new American Soldier was going to be “Powerful yet pure, virile yet virginal”.

America, Here's My Boy,

America, Here’s My Boy
c 1918

The CTCA hired investigators to find the existence of vice areas, and along with their own agents, the Intelligence Department of the Army, and members of local organizations, the CTVA encouraged local communities to pass strict anti-vice legislation. The CTVA gathered detailed evidence of the vice in local areas, insisted that local law enforcement agencies enforce existing and new ordinances that were pushed through by the CTCA. The CTCA was very successful in eradicating the “Red Light” districts in Louisville and other major cities. By October of 1917, the CTCA had closed Red Light districts in nineteen cities.

This pressure by the CTCA was the final weight needed to force the closing of houses of prostitution. Louisville’s Mayor and many residents, supported the continuance of the district, but if it was allowed to remain, the building of the camp in Louisville would be put in question. The Mayor, citing the Louisville’s Vice Commission’s report of 1915, argued that the Brothels could be forced out of business by regulation of alcohol sales and entertainment. But the CTCA’s position was  “To phase out the Red Light district by prohibiting music and liquor in the houses” was not the solution that they had in mind.

Although Mayor Buschemeyer struggled with the idea of closing the houses, he knew that failure to do so could mean that the camp may not be built. Buschmeyer let the Federal government know that the city would cooperate, and in July of 1917, just weeks after the start of construction had begun, the city passed legislation closing the red light district, with very little or no opposition. The Courier-Journal, who just one month earlier called the CTCA’s attempts to close the houses, “an impractical reform” and “unobtainable”, reversed their position and supported the campaign.  On the first day of September, 1917, seven days before the arrival of troops, the Louisville Police Department enforced the deadline that was set forth on August 16, and the districts were forever closed.

"Green Street" Louisville's "Red Light District"

“Green Street” Louisville’s “Red Light District”

Louisville’s “Red Light” District was generally (and ironically) centered along “Green Street”, east of Downtown Louisville. When the Houses of Ill Repute were shut down, the street name was patriotically changed to “Liberty Street’, in respect of the war effort.

………………….End                     Copyright Camp Zachary Taylor Historical Society 2016

The History of Camp Zachary Taylor – Part 3 – “Preparing for War”


US 1917 Division Boundary Map

On April 6, 1917, The United States was officially “At War”. Imperial Germany had been attacking American Ships for several years. The ships were carrying supplies to our allies in Europe, who we were supporting in the war effort. The following link is a German documentary film showing the sinking of many Allied Ships in the Atlantic.

German U-Boat Silent Film Documentary WW1

News arrived in Louisville in on May 7th, 1917, that a bill in congress would be passed to fund the building of 16 Army Training Camps across the US, with one located somewhere in Indiana or Kentucky. In addition to the 16 Army Cantonments, they also planned to build 16 smaller National Guard camps. The 16 Army Cantonments cost an average of $7 1/2 Million dollars each, or about $120 Million Dollars combined. Today that would convert to about $2,446,800,000.00 dollars.

Most of the camps were placed close to populated areas. The sparser the population, as in the west, the further apart the camps were located. Most of the camps were built east of the Rocky Mountains This is evident in the US Army Division Boundary Map, (shown above) . The upper mid-west was mapped out for the 84th Division. It included the states of Illinois, Indiana and Kentucky.


84th Arm Patch, 1917- 1920

Illinois, Indiana and Kentucky were well known for their connection to Abraham Lincoln. Kentucky was the birthplace, Indiana the childhood home, and Illinois was his adult home and final resting place.  When the 84th Division was organized in August of 1917, it selected the nickname “The Rail Splitter Division”, or “Lincoln Division” in honor of him.

On May 24, 1917, the United States War Department appointed a commission to locate suitable building sites across the US. They were to investigate and report back on available sites that met their requirements. For a site to be considered it had to meet these minimum requirements. Although these requirements seem very basic today, not many cities across the country could even qualify.

1.) A suitable camp site

2.) A suitable Maneuver Field

3.) Ample supply of pure filtered water

4.) A sanitary sewer system

5.) Street car service to and from the nearest city

6.) Electricity and natural gas service from City Services

7.) Ample Railroad Service, passenger and freight

8.) Close to a large city. (Louisville had a population of 260,000 in 1916)

Louisville Board of Trade, headed by the Mr. Frederick M. Sackett, called for a meeting to organize a plan to get the camp built near Louisville, Kentucky. The Board of Trade then assembled a Committee to procure a land package for the camp, which was proposed to be built on farmland located south of the city.

President of the Louisville Board of Trade,, Mr. Frederick M. Sackett (c. 1918)

President of the Louisville Board of Trade,, Mr. Frederick M. Sackett (c. 1918)

The City of Louisville, as well as two other cities in Kentucky, and four cities in Indiana, were competing for this huge construction project.

The Louisville Board of Trade first offered the War Department’s Commission, a site of 400 acres, which was presented through their representative in congress, the Hon. Swagar Sherley.

Congressman Joseph Swager Sherley 1903-1919

Congressman Joseph Swager Sherley (1903-1919)

But the Board of Directors were notified 10 days later, that the site would need to be much larger. At least 5 to 6 times larger. The Louisville Committee then reassembled and were able to obtain an additional 1230 acres to add to the previous 400.

The Louisville Committee met with the Army’s Commission on two more occasions, where upon they acquired more land, and were able offer their complete package on May 24, 1917. They proposed four reservations. Those sites comprised of “The Main Camp” (1495 acres) , “The Maneuver Field” (1270 acres),  “The Remount Station”  (81 acres) , and “The Rifle Range” (530 acres). See the map below for those sites.

An additional 16,000 acres for an Artillery Range at West Point, Kentucky was added, which made the total acreage for Camp Zachary Taylor – 19,376 acres (30.27 square miles).

The (4) Reservations of Camp Zachary Taylor (1917)

The (4) Reservations of Camp Zachary Taylor (1917)

The proposed land package was offered to the United States Government, rent free, for a period of two years. If the lease was renewed after that period of time, then they would have an option to lease the 19,376 acres for $10,000.00 per year, for a period of three additional years.

The army only used the campsite for four years. When the hostilities ended in November of 1918, and the armistice was signed on Nov. 11, 1918, all construction stopped. Another conditions of the lease stipulated that when the army vacated the land, any pre-existing buildings on the property were to be left in their present condition. All utilities including electric and telephone lines, water and sewer services were to remain and would then become property of the landowner.

Most of the buildings were dismantled. Several farmhouses and homesteads existed on the property before the camp was built. Many of them were used by the army for officers residences or officer’s clubs. Some have survived, and are still standing today.

Mulberry Hill, Clark Family Log House and Homestead.

Mulberry Hill, Clark Family Log House and Homestead.

The Clark Homestead in George Rogers Clark Park, known as Mulberry Hill, was one of a few building that did not survive. Their condition at the time was poor. The two Story log homestead had already been taken down to one small section, and was converted to a barn. What remained of the log home and outbuildings were removed sometime after 1919, when the land was later sold at auction.

Mulberry Hill - Clark Family Homestead partially demolished and turned into a barn (foreground in picture)

Mulberry Hill – Clark Family Homestead partially demolished and turned into a barn (behind tree in picture)

The land where the Main Camp was constructed, was considered to be prime farm land. Referred to as “Truck or Market Gardens”, the land was used primarily for growing corn and vegetables. The site consisted of three separate plateaus, which the army saw suitable for three separate Brigades.

Camp Taylor Barracks shown being built next to summer crops.

Camp Taylor Barracks shown being built alongside summer crops. June 25th 1917

The drainage was excellent, and several creeks fed directly to Beargrass Creek, which emptied into the Ohio River. Some work was preformed on the drainage system to straighten out the creeks, and build bridges over the streams.

One report stated that the part of the Main Camp had formerly been a brick clay pit. The soil had been excavated and removed to a depth of a few feet. A tile drainage system had to be installed at this location to assist in the drainage. Several drainage ditches that traversed under barracks were also tiled and run underground.

Camp Taylor Barracks under Construction. July 1917

Camp Taylor Barracks under Construction. July 1917

Southern Railway had a main line that ran directly through the center of the purposed site. Their vice-president, Mr. R.L. McKellar, made assurances that Southern Railway would provide ample freight services at the site.

They also agreed to provide the requisite sidetracks and accommodations as needed. The Southern Railways tracks also had direct connections to the Pennsylvania System, Baltimore & Ohio system, The Monon Railroad, Chesapeake & Ohio Railroad, The New York Central Lines, The Louisville & Nashvillle Railroad and the Henderson and St. Louis Railroad.

This central location, and unprecedented access to rail lines, was essential to the Boards proposal. The Committee noted that the site was midway North and South, and midway East and West of the Commissions search area for the Mid-West. Based on this centralized location, and Louisville’s ability to fulfill every condition set forth by the War Department, the agreement was made to select Louisville as the site of the Cantonment that would later be named “Camp Zachary Taylor”


copyright 2016, Camp Zachary Taylor Historical Society

The History of Camp Zachary Taylor — Part 2 — The Unfortunate Series of Events

The first part of the 20th Century was a time of creativity, adventure, and invention. It saw the birth of manned flight, exploration of remote parts of the world, and industrial advances that would propel the United States into becoming a power house of military might in the world.

It also saw the beginning of a European conflict that would linger for nearly four decades. It was inconceivable in 1918, that 20 years later, the “War To End All Wars”, would soon be overshadowed by another, more devastating war. Of the 4 years that World War 1 raged (1914-1918), the US was only involved for 1 1/2 of those years. It was a short conflict as far as the American’s were concerned, almost just a skirmish. The memories of the “Great War” were erased when World War 2 broke out in 1941, which consumed the entire nation for four long years.

This is an abbreviated history of the events that brought the United States into World War 1.

In 1914, a major European conflict erupted when tensions between a secret nationalist Serbian society, The Black Hand, assassinated the heir to the Austro-Hungarian throne. Archduke Franz Ferdinand and his wife were murdered while riding in their carriage in Sarajevo, Serbia, on June 28th 1914. 10-ferdinand

The reaction to the assassination was an ultimatum from Austria-Hungary, “that the assassins be brought to justice“. That demand was rejected by Serbia, a decision which ultimately resulted in a Declaration of War from Austria-Hungary on Serbia.

Allies to Serbia soon joined the conflict. Russia, France, Britain, Australia, Canada, India, New Zealand, South Africa and Japan, joined in union with Serbia. Germany and Italy were allied to Austria-Hungary by treaty, and quickly joined their side.

RMS Lusitania

RMS Lusitania

Almost a year into the war, on May 1, 1915, the RMS Lusitania, an English passenger liner, left New York City, bound for Liverpool. Unknown to the passengers, it was carrying munitions and contraband destined for the British war effort.

The Lusitania was the fastest ship afloat. Having engines that produced sixty eight thousand horsepower, it could travel at a top speed of 25 knots. It claimed that it could outrun any U-boat.

Known as the “Greyhound of the Seas”, it set the record in its day for the fastest Atlantic crossing.

On May 7th, 1915, the ocean liner was approaching the coast of Ireland, and at 2:10 in the afternoon, German U-boat 88 was waiting for the giant ship. It fired a torpedo at the ocean liner, which hit it just forward of the engine rooms.

WW1 German Submarine

WW1 German Submarine

Several minutes later, a second powerful explosion occurred in the cargo hold, which was at first believed to be a second torpedo. Some experts believe that the second blast was the contraband exploding from the fires burning on the ship.

Alfred Gwynne Canderbilt

Alfred Gwynne Canderbilt

There were 1,924 passengers and crew on board. Of those nearly two thousand passengers, 1,119 people died, including 114 Americans. Some of the more notable passengers who lost their lives that day were Alfred Gwynne Vanderbilt , millionaire and son of Cornelius Vanderbilt (pictured at left), writer Justus M. Foreman, and artist and philosopher Elbert Green Hubbard. There were only 805 survivors.

Following the sinking of The Lusitania in 1915, the public outcry was enormous. The American people were calling for a declaration of war against Germany, but President Woodrow Wilson was determined to remain neutral in the conflict.

President Woodrow Wilson

President Woodrow Wilson

The United States was not prepared for war when it broke out in 1914. The US military was ranked only 12th in size among the industrialized nations, behind Turkey, Greece and Bulgaria. In June of 1914, America’s standing army was only 200,000 men. President Wilson needed time.

Russia had an army of nearly 6 million. Germany’s soldiers in uniform numbered 4 1/2 million. The US had little time to get prepared for the inevitable. President Wilson knew he would soon be forced into a war he had tried so hard to avoid. Even with the unrestricted German submarine attacks on the merchant marine ships and passenger liners, Wilson stood fast declaring the US’s neutrality. This position had to be held until he was able to adequately supply the US Armies, and our Allies, with the munitions and equipment necessary to fight and win a war overseas.

German attacks on American shipping continued until in the spring of 1917, when President Woodrow Wilson had enough of the merciless submarine attacks on the merchant marines. On April 2, 1917, President Wilson felt that he had amassed enough equipment and supplies, where he was able to address the congress of the United States, calling for a “Declaration of War with Germany”.

US Declaration of War with Germany, April 6, 1917

US Declaration of War with Germany, April 6, 1917

On April 6, 1917, the Congress of the United States passed the resolution to “Declare War on Imperial Germany”.

New York Times, August 11, 1918

New York Times, August 11, 1918

News arrived on August 11, 1918, about the fate of ship and crew of German U-Boat 88, the ship that sank the Lusitania three years earlier. German authorities confirmed that it had been blown up in a British mine field in September, the previous year. The sinking killed all aboard, including the Captain, Lieutenant Commander Schweiger. As reported in the NY Times article that broke the news, “There is a certain plausibility of poetic justice in his end, but if he had been human and not a German machine, he should have lived until he made away with himself; or, his mind broken with intolerable remembrances, he should have passed long years in a madhouse.

There was not a lot of sympathy for Captain Schweiger following his death. He was considered a murderer, and thought to be sub-human. Most of the German military were portrayed as evil and inhumane in many publications.

What's Coming to the Kaiser, Tench and Camp newspaper, August 26, 1918.

What’s Coming to the Kaiser, Tench and Camp newspaper, August 26, 1918.

That sentiment was widely held in America throughout the war, as in this cartoon, depicting a Victory Parade with the Kaiser being towed behind a bus of Belgian survivors, hung by his feet with a large Iron Cross tied around his neck.

The US Army had been shipping US soldiers to France for months prior to U-boat 88’s sinking. Many US soldiers had been killed by the time the news was published. The public, who vilified this man, welcomed the news of his death in the summer of 1918 as the reports of battles, allied victories, and US casualties kept coming in.

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We welcome inquiries about Camp Zachary Taylor and it’s history. We can be reached at EMail Us

copyright 2016, Camp Zachary Taylor Historical Socety

The History of Camp Zachary Taylor — Part 1

Next summer, in June of 2017, “Camp Zachary Taylor” will be celebrating it’s 100th Anniversary. The World War 1 Cantonment, and now neighborhood in Louisville KY, was built in the summer of 1917, and survived for three years until it was closed shortly after the war ended. Over the next year, and leading up to the anniversary of the Opening Day of the camp, we will be posting stories about how the camp came to be located in Louisville, Kentucky.

I will be talking about the events that led up to Louisville being selected as the location for one of the 16 new camps built in the United States. I will delve into the details of the political maneuvering, bidding and negotiating by the city leaders to win the project. We will be talking about the people who passed through it, some on their way to success, and some of the regular soldiers, who felt duty bound to fight for their country. We will look into the people who volunteered in various capacities to help keep the installation running, and many other topics related the history of Camp Zachary Taylor.

(photo above) Review of The 84th Division at Camp Zachary Taylor, photo taken 11-10-1917 in the Maneuver Field (On the land of the Standiford’s homestead, looking north – Henry Phillips homestead house in background).

This astronomical construction project was conceived, drawn and built (and substantially complete) in 69 calendar days. It was turned over to the Construction Quartermaster 80 days after the first board was cut. The Main Camp covered nearly 4000 acres and contained 1787 buildings. The artillery range was an additional 16,000 acres. The initial cost was $7, 041,400.00. However, the army continued construction during the three years of occupation. On January 1, 1919, the total expenditures for construction topped out at over $8,800,000.00 .

Work Begun 6-23-17

(photo above) Construction of first Barracks at Camp Zachary Taylor, June 1917.

Camp Knox was originally part of Camp Taylor, and served as the training branch for the Field Artillery that was stationed at Camp Taylor. It’s existence today is due to it’s connection to Camp Taylor. We will be covering the history of this relationship later in this series. Check back as we post more stories over the next year. I also welcome inquiries about Camp Taylor, and invite anyone to submit questions to us. We can be reached at EMail Us

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copyright 2016, Camp Zachary Taylor Historical Society

General Pershing – Born on this date : September 13, 1860

One Hundred and Fifty Six years ago, September 13, 1860, the commander for the American Expeditionary Forces (AEF) during World War 1, General John Joseph “Black Jack” Pershing, was born in Laclede, Missouri. He graduated from West Point in 1886, and fought during the Indian Campaigns as a cavalry officer from 1886 to 1891.

EPSON scanner image

General Pershing c. 1918

From 1891 to 1898, Lt. Pershing instructed tactics at both the University of Nebraska and West Point Military Academy. During the Spanish-American War, he fought with the Tenth Cavalry and the years following the war, he became the Chief Ordinance Officer and rose to the rank of Major. Major Pershing served in the Philippines from 1903 to 1906. In that same year, Pershing was promoted to the rank of General by then President Theodore Roosevelt.

pershing General Pershing, France c. 1918

As General, he governed the Moro Provinces of the Philippines, and during that time was commander during the Battle of Bagsag, July 12, 1913.

In 1915, General Pershing was dealt a great blow to his family, with the deaths of his wife and three daughters. The fire that took them, spared his only son (Warren) who was six years old at the time.

In 1916, he led the expedition into Mexico in pursuit of Pancho Villa. Later that year he was made a Major General. In 1917, he was given the command of the AEF, and in October of 1917, was made a full general.

The following link is a recording of General Pershing’s short speech to the American people, recorded in France on April 4, 1918, asking for their support in the war. This Audio is available from the National Archives. Below is the transcription of this recording.

“Three thousand miles from home, an American Army is fighting for you. Everything you hold worthwhile is at stake. Only the the hardest goals can win against the enemy we are fighting. Invoking the spirits of our forefathers, the army asks your unblinking support to the ends, that the high ideals for which America stands may endure upon the earth.”

Gen. John J. Pershing was the supreme commander of American Forces during World War 1, and at the conclusion of The Great War, General Pershing was promoted to “General of the Armies”. Although this post was previously only held by Gen. George Washington, Pershing, nor any other US General could be ranked equal to General Washington.

General Pershing retired in 1924, and passed away on June 15, 1948, at the age of 87. He is buried at Arlington National Cemetery in Washington, DC.

10,000 Soldiers Spell Out Camp Zachary Taylor

Of the dozens of photographs taken at Camp Taylor, one that is somewhat popular, is photo #678, taken by Simes and Campbell, of Louisville Kentucky. This iconic photograph was taken on September 15th, 1918, and it used over 10,000 soldiers of the 159th Depot Brigade, to form the letters. This newspaper article featuring the event, has a handwritten note on it which says, “Olon was in the photo, and he helped to form the letter”C”, Keep it Please”.


They creatively used light and dark clothing to enhance the letters, which allowed them “stand out” from the background.

The photo was taken in an area known as “Renfro Field”. It was named after a nearby market, Renfro Station, that was located near the railroad tracks that bisected Camp Taylor. Renfro Field was also used as a makeshift airport for Curtis JN-4 (Jenny), and other small military airplanes. There were never any aircraft stationed at the Camp, but a week after this photo was taken, 20 airplanes arrived at Camp Zachary Taylor from the Wilbur Wright Field at Dayton, Ohio, to give exhibition flights. The airplanes stayed for a week, and were parked on Renfro Field.

It was noted that an “Armed Detail” would be dispatched around the clock to “Prevent curio seekers and souvenir hunters from taking away parts of the planes, as mementos of the world war.”

Curtis JN-4 Jenny at Camp Zachary Taylor c.1918

Naturalization Tree Monument Relocation is now complete.

In September of 2015, the Naturalization Tree Monument was relocated from it’s original installation and moved to nearby Camp Zachary Taylor Park, which is one block west of Poplar Level Road and Taylor Avenue. The plan was to have signage placed near the monument so visitors would be able read about the monument and it’s history.

2016-04-19 13.11.28

2016-04-19 13.11.44

The signage was installed April 19th, 2016, and a thank you goes out to Louisville Metro Park’s Marty Storch, and Metro Councilman Pat Mulvihill for making this entire project happen.

Veterans Day – Wednesday, November 11, 2015

This Wednesday, November 11, 2015, will make the 97th Anniversary of the signing of the Armistice that ended World War 1. The event was commemorated every year as Armistice Day. Today we know it as Veterans Day.

The City of Louisville will be hosting a Veterans Day Parade in downtown Louisville this Wednesday at 11:00. The parade will be on Main Street with the review stand at 6th and Main. You can read more about it here.

Veterans Day Parade – Louisville 2015

Here are some pictures from previous years parades.

















The Naturalization Tree Monument Re-Dedication Ceremony September 20, 2015


On Sunday, September 20th, 2015, Metro Councilman Steve Magre will be presenting the Re-Dedication Ceremony for The Naturalization Tree Monument in Camp Zachary Taylor Park in Louisville Ky.

Nat Tree Monument Sign lo-res This sign will be installed at the Monument’s new location. The soldiers in this image are Foreign Born Men of the 23rd Company, 159th Depot Brigade, who were granted US Citizenship at Camp Zachary Taylor. They are proudly wearing full combat gear, standing in front of The Naturalization Tree, the symbol of their new citizenship.

The Naturalization Tree at Camp Zachary Taylor, was a sprawling North American Ash Tree that once stood along Lee Avenue, near Grove Avenue. It stood approximately 300 yards from where the Monument is in now located at 1630 Taylor Avenue. It was a mature ash tree that stood for many decades after the Monument was placed, but unfortunately, was struck by lightning and taken down. All that remains is the marker, which was erected by The Daughters of the American Revolution, and formally dedicated on November 11, 1921.

The Congressional “Act of 1862” permitted “Any Alien of the age of 21 and upwards, who has enlisted, or may enlist in the armies of the United States during war time, upon honorable discharge shall be admitted to become a citizen of the United States”. At the onset of the United States entering World War 1, Congress passed the Naturalization Act of May 22, 1917, which amended the 1862 law to read “Any Alien who may under existing law, become citizens of the US with 1 year of Military Service”. The preceding requirement was 4 years’ service. However, it specifically excluded this right to all those of Asian descent.

The “Act of May 9, 1918” again amended the law to “provide immediate naturalization of alien soldiers as US citizens upon enlistment“, and was expanded to include Filipino and Porto Rican nationals. It was not until “The Immigration and Naturalization Act of 1953” that all Asian’s were granted this right.

On Wednesday, October 2, 1918, 400 alien soldiers at Camp Zachary Taylor, swore allegiance to the United States. The ceremony that granted these men citizenship to the United States of America, took place under the crown of the mature ash tree on the slope of Flag Hill. Seventeen nationalities were represented that day.

bildeA swearing in ceremony under The Naturalization Tree, 1918

Gilmore Jacob Gayle, a native of Kingston Jamaica, was one of those individuals who received citizenship that day. He was a citizen of Great Brittan, a graduate of the University of Illinois, and was fluent in several languages. He was the first black man to be sworn in as a US Citizen at Camp Zachary Taylor. Gayle was a graduate of the Field Artillery Officer Training School (FACOTS) that was being conducted at Camp Zachary Taylor.

Shortly after his naturalization as a US citizen, Gayle received a commission in the 814th Pioneer Infantry Division (AKA The Black Devil’s) at Camp Zachary Taylor.

From October 2, 1918 to October 12, 1918, three ceremonies were held where 2365 soldiers took the oath of citizenship. Approximately 4000 soldiers were eventually naturalized at Camp Zachary Taylor in 1918. Of the 546,490 foreign born nationals who were granted citizenship in the USA from 1918-1920, 244,300 became United States citizens while enlisted in the US armed forces.

NYT Naturalization Tree-1

In January 1921,The Naturalization Tree was one of 10 tree’s inducted into the American Forestry Association’s “Tree Hall of Fame“. On January 14, 1921, the New York Tribune printed a full page article describing all 10 trees. It stated that The Naturalization Tree was selected because “more aliens have taken the oath of allegiance under its branches than under other tree in the world“. The tree certainly was famous across the US following WW1.

We take great pride in announcing this re-dedication ceremony 94 years after it was first dedicated. The ceremony starts at 4:30, and other activities are planned after the re-dedication. Thanks to everyone involved who helped to make this possible.