February 3, 2016 Marston Memorial Historical Center

L.R. Marston and World War I

by Julianne Class

Europe is in the midst of commemorating the centennial of World War I. While that officially won’t happen in the United States for another year, the Marston Historical Center is highlighting it early through an addition to the L.R. Marston Papers from his daughter, Evelyn Marston Mottweiler.

This “My Soldier” booklet (pictured) was given to L.R. Marston after he entered the army. It has space for soldiers to write down important places, dates, and to put photographs. As part of the L.R. Marston Papers the booklet is a great source of information on what Marston did during his time in the army.

L.R. Marston was drafted into the U.S. Army in 1918 at the age of 23. Before starting his service on March 29, 1918, he was a post graduate student at the University of Illinois. He served domestically for 16 months at camps in Michigan and Ohio. Because of his interest in psychology, Marston volunteered to work on the Psychiatric Ward at Camp Custer, Battle Creek, Michigan. According to his booklet, Marston reconnected with a former college friend while in the army. His friend was giving shots when he was entering and Marston was in his line. Both were quite surprised!

It is often forgotten, but World War I was not the only threat in the US in 1918. An epidemic of influenza also swept through the country and for Marston, two of his passes from camp were used because of this devastation. His older brother, Charles, died from the disease in mid-October. Marston’s only sister, Jennie, was a nursing student and had been approved for appointment as a head nurse upon her graduation. Jennie died a few weeks after her brother Charles and only a few days before graduation, from heart failure caused by the influenza. She had been a faithful correspondent to her brother at camp before her illness writing him about her work at the hospital and keeping him up to date with things going on at home. Her letters are also part of this new piece of the L.R. Marston Papers.

L.R. Marston was discharged July 31, 1919. He returned home from Camp Sherman, Ohio through Coldwater and Union City, MI, driven the last leg by his Aunt and Uncle. Marston resumed his doctoral program at the University of Illinois in the fall. The University gave him a fellowship like the one he had given up when he went into military service.

This “My Soldier” booklet is not very big and not very thick, but it holds experiences and memories that give us the ability to shed a little more light on a man who had a great impact on the Marston Historical Center and the Free Methodist denomination.

Look through Marston's booklet here.

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