One hundred years ago today, on June 5, 1917, hundreds of Forest county mothers woke to the knowledge that their sons would be required by days end to register for the draft under the Selective Service Act of 1917.
According to the Northern Citizen, [published in North Crandon] the first young man to register in-person at the North Crandon local board was Rev. G. Gerth.
Gustave August Gerth was born on February 16, 1888 in Fairchild, Wisconsin. In June of 1917, he was married and had one child. The Reverend did claim an exemption from the draft due to his occupation as a minister.
According to the government circular that was published to “help young men who are called upon to do military service” just “because you claim exemption from draft, it by no means follows that you are exempt. For the information of the war department you should make a claim now if you intend to prosecute it. Some persons will be exempted on account of their occupations or offices, some on account of the fact that they have relatives dependent upon them for support” [Northern Citizen, June 1, 1917].
A follow-up story on the draft registration published a week later, stated that 27 out of the 43 North Crandon men to register on June 5, 1917, did in fact claim exemption. Many of them did so based on the fact that they were farmers which they felt was “as patriotic as to go to the front”.
According to the Rev. G. Gerth’s obituary published in the April 20, 1963 edition of the Marshfield News-Herald, Reverand Gerth’s first church was the North Crandon church. He served in that role from August 1912 – August 1918. During that time frame, he also served at the Lutheran churches in Hiles, Cavour, Armstrong Creek, Fence and Goodman.