A LOOK AT BROOKVILLE:Red Cross auctions, World War I

Staff report

BROOKVILLE — In December 1917, there was a nation-wide campaign to get new members for the American Red Cross. Montgomery County and the Brookville area were canvassed for membership and support. This was to show that the citizens of Perry and Clay Townships and the Village of Brookville were showing support of the boys in the trenches with their dollars as well as with their sympathies.

Some people had asked where does the money go? At an open meeting at the Pastime Theatre, citizens were told that for every dollar paid in to the national treasury, $1.02 goes to relief purposes. This was made possible by a system of interest from the banks by which instead of the people at large paying the overhead expenses, all of their money goes to the use for which it was given.

The officers’ expenses and all other such expenditures were paid by the banks for the use of the money for the time that it was deposited with them. Women of Brookville, Clay and Perry Townships were urged to come to the Red Cross sewing rooms and sew at least one afternoon a week. At that time they were open on Wednesday and Thursday afternoons from one to five o’clock.

In March 1918, the Junior Lodge boys felt that the Red Cross treasury needed to be replenished and called for assistance from the Daughters of America. They decided to canvas the town for donations and then hold an auction sale in the lodge room on Wednesday evening March 20, 1918.

The business men were especially generous in contributing items for the sale. All sorts of commodities from baled straw to the finest of cakes were ready to fall under the auctioneer’s hammer. At the end of the evening they had raised $200 which went to the Brookville Branch of the Red Cross for purchasing material to send to our boys on the front.

On April 18, 1918, Brookville hosted a big community benefit sale for the local Red Cross chapter. The Red Cross ladies asked for food donations for their dinner that was held after the auction on April 18. The cost for the dinner was 25 cents and was held at Mrs. Grubbs’ Hotel (Palace Hotel.) The total fed that day was about 550 people.

The auction was held on Market Street at the front of the bank building. The band was on hand and the school children sang patriotic songs. Mayor Fox introduced the speakers, beginning with Professor A. A. Maysilles, county superintendent of schools, Judge Martin and Judge Routsohn. All of the speeches were of a common theme, conveying that the Kaiser as the head of a German horde had made himself to be classified as the devil himself walking on the earth.

Shortly after noon the big sale started off with a boom. The first article to be put up was a small sack of flour and by the time the bidding was done, it had been sold over a couple times and the Red Cross had received $1.70 per pound for its contents. A Ford was the next special object of interest and sold for $142.50 and was the highest of the day.

Cakes were another popular sale item. It took only 3 of them to net the Red Cross $177.50. A red white and blue cake was sold 23 times for a total of $89.00 ($1,754.72 in today’s dollars.) When the final financial count was made the total was $2200.00. After that a little extra came in and with the proceeds of the dinner made about $2,550. Reitz Bros. and E. B. Whipp were the auctioneers and their excellent sale crier skills added much to the success of the sale. Many others assisted in one way or another, the chief credit was due to the men of the Junior Order for pushing the sale and getting the donations.

All information and the photo for this Look at Brookville article were supplied by the Brookville Historical Society. Do you have a photo or historical information to share or add? Please contact the Brookville Historical Society at 937-833-0285 or email to [email protected]

Staff report