Barber County Kansas
At right: Chester Hagerman before he went into the army. He was about 21 years old when this photo was taken. He was born in 1895 and went into the army about 1917.
Photo courtesy of Jim Giles.
Chester was the son of Elmer Ellsworth Hagerman and Susie Hagerman. He served in Company B of the 353rd Infantry, 89th Division, which was known as the Rolling "W" Division or Middle West Division.
Barber County Index, October 23, 1918.
Somewhere in France,
September 10, 1918.
My Dear Folks:
I received letters from you dated July 23rd, August 4th and July 29th, one from Sybil dated August 5th and two from Mary dated July 29th and August 8th. Now, believe me I was sure glad to get them, but why don't you hear from me I can't understand that. Now Mother do not worry about me for I guess I do enough myself and I'm cutting it out. Don't you worry about those German bullets and rats and lice and the rest of those things that you named. I am not bothered about any of them except those big shells. They sometimes or most all times make me flatten out on the ground which is the best protection if you have no shelter. The bullets don't hurt me because the boche can't shoot straight enough to hit me. He's tried with his machine guns before when we were up. As long as a person can hear a bullet sing he is safe enough, but when they go crack-zing, crack-zing then you had better bury your nose in the solid earth for there might be one that you'd never hear. But I should worry about Fritzie's bullets and other junk if he'll keep his big Bertha's shells and gas at home. I have had a few shots at the boche already but no great number of them. I believe they are getting scarce, anyhow we have found out they are afraid of the Yanks. They will never walk into a bunch of Yanks if they know it.
No, Mother, the weather is not hot at all here. I wore my overcoat a little bit in July, but of course it was most of mornings and evenings. It's handy all the time now.
Sept. 20th: Will add a little to the letter I wrote a week ago, Mother we have experienced some great things since that time as you have probably read about by this time. Our first time "over the top" was one grand display of bravery and skill on the part of our division and especially our regiment. It sure is no easy job to tackle what we did and go through it as lucky as we did. My Mamma, that one morning at 5:00 "over" was certainly creased in my mind so deep that it shall never be forgotten. When that old watch said 5:00 all hearts beat as one and we acted the same in the drive. I will tell you all about it if I live to get home, which I hope I will. I have not written to any one much because I couldn't., was in the front lines several days before coming "over the top" and the weather conditions were something awful. Paper is hard to get and all around in the condition we are in it's lucky you hear from me at all.
I lost everything I had going "over," so will be glad when they replace our torn and dirty clothing and give us the layout we had before the drive. No mater, I have not received the papers that you spoke of but there is some more mail come in today and maybe there are some papers down there now. You spoke of coming cross water. I sure wish you could, mamma and go back with us. It would be nice but expensive. Will send you this letter in a captured Dutch enveloped, ha, ha. They sure leave lots of stuff behind them when they leave. Well mother, I must close, hoping to hear from you soon and if not be able to be back home before very long if God lets me.
Sept. 21st. Will drop you a few lines as I have a little time. Just took a good bath and got some clean underwear for the first time in six weeks, I believe. Gee I sure am tickled to get cleaned up once. One gets awful dirty after going "over the top," then we were in the front line trenches two weeks before we went over and nothing but mud knee deep and oh my you can imagine how nice it was to get bathed and cleaned up once. Mother I am sorry to say all your dear letters that you wrote to me along with Mary's and Sybil's and others were lost in the salvage. I left them in my blanket roof along with all my personal and private belongings and we just heard that they salvaged them all so we lost everything and I wanted, so bad to keep those letters that I got from home because I used to sit and read them over and over. I lost a dandy razor that I captured from a Dutchman and several other things, but they can have them all if it will win the war. I have many nice souvenirs but I had to turn them in and there's no way to get them home but wish I could though. The Germans seem to have lots of souvenirs.
I saw "Speck" today for the first time since the drive. He is O.K. and was glad to see me. He gave me some clippings that he clipped from papers sent to him. I do wish I could get my papers that you sent me. I cannot get them though and they don't seem to know anything about them. I sure do get lots of letters from home and wish I could get more, but I can't answer what I get. I have to write to you with pencil and paper from the Red Cross. I have no pen any more and haven't seen a Red Triangle for "Mike only knows when." I saw Oliver Parker the other day, he sure looks good. He asked about everyone. I guess poor Shorty Nixon was killed from all we can hear about him. I see Skaggs from Sharon almost every day. He is just across from my billet now. I wish Claude and the other people that I write to would write. I can't see why they don't. Can't help but think lots of our mail was lost. I wrote to Mary's mother and never heard from her. How is she getting along now from her broken shoulder? That was indeed too bad that she got hurt. Maybe it won't be so bad if we don't work too soon and will take good care of it. How is uncle Hugh and grandpa getting along. I wrote to them but have never heard from them. I hope they keep well. I suppose M. L. looks dreary and lonesome, doesn't it? Wait till we all come marching home. Whew! Won't that be grand? Every time I think of it I get plumb crazy. It sure is a trying job for most of us boys over her, especially those who are fighting. Some have been here over a year and have never been on the front lines.
Well mother I must close now and write again when I can. I will be a good soldier as I have been and trust to God to return me back home to the ones I love. Tell all hello and that I went over the top all O. K. the first time. Tell Sybil many thanks for the little card and also those other three pictures Mary sent me, they were real cute. I haven't lost any of them for they went "over the top" with me. Write soon,
Lovingly, I remain,
Pvt. CHESTER R. HAGERMAN.
The Barber County Index, December 4, 1918.
ANOTHER STAR OF GOLDChester Hagerman,
Another of Medicine Lodge's Honored Sons,
Falls on the Field of Honor.
The third Star of Gold was added to Medicine Lodge's sacred Honor Roll last Friday when Mr. and Mrs. E. E. Hagerman received a message from Washington stating that their older son, Chester, was killed in action in France October 27th. The parents were unprepared to receive such distressing news, especially at this time when peace is the heritage of the world and they were fondly looking forward to the day when their first born would rejoin them at the family fireside. But Fate decreed otherwise and it has become their sacred, although sorrowful honor to make the supreme sacrifice for World Democracy.
Chester was 22 years, 9 months and 28 days of age. he was born and grew to manhood here. On April 29, 1918, he entrained for Camp Funston and sailed for France with the famous 89th Division from Camp Mills June 3rd, arriving in France June 18th. He was a member of Company B, 253rd Infantry and went to the front early in August where he made the good fight until he fell in Freedom's cause October 27th. He is survived by his parents, a brother, Ralph, who is in training at Fort Logan, Colorado, and two sisters, Misses Sybil and Margaret.
He was the third Medicine Lodge soldier to give his life for humanity. Clark Reeves and Willis Nixon were killed in action September 12th. All of them entrained at the same time and were members of the honored 89th. Chester and Clark were next door neighbors on Main street. When the news of Mr. Reeve's death came Mrs. Hagerman was one of the first, Mr. Hagerman being away teaching school, to be at the Reeves home to offer her assistance and consolation to the distressed parents, and when the news of Chester's death came, Mrs. Reeves with another neighbor, Mrs. Gilmour was the bearer of the sad news to Mrs. Hagerman and these ladies in their own good way did much to comfort both Mr. and Mrs. Hagerman at the very beginning.
There is still a space of two weeks of the war's end to cover. the toll in those two last weeks was great and we know not how many more of America's brave sons sleep beneath French soil. Many fathers and mothers are yet burdened with great anxiety and there will be many more heartaches before the final casualty lists shall have been published. But of this there can be no doubt; Mr. and Mrs. Hagerman and all the other parents who have been called upon to contribute of their flesh and blood to this Holy cause have found a new place in the affections of their community and nation and the world and the memory of their noble sons will be immortalized on the unfading scroll of the innumerable throngs who blazed the way through the ages for civic righteousness, "peace on earth, good will to man."
The grief of these parents is indeed a mental burden at this time but as the years come and go there will come a compensatory balm that will transform acute heartaches into a sacred pride that will comfort and sustain them in their declining years.
Two stars are on the service flag,
That hangs on the window there;
One for a son, on this side and
One for the son, over there.
Now, that the battle has ended, his
Star will be remembered and treasured
With great care, and will always be
Honored, for his service "Over There."
Letter from Chester Hagerman's Commanding Officer, Captain Francis Leigh,
to his mother, Susie Hagerman, about Chester's death.
Letter courtesy of Jim Giles..
Jan. 20th, 1919.
Dear Mrs. Hagerman,
Your son was a fine soldier, a bright and willing boy, + I had made him my orderly, as he wrote you, which meant that I saw a good deal of him.
We were in the Bois De Bantheville, a very warm position, + your son received a shell wound which killed him instantly - he never knew it. As you know by now, we suffered heavily in that position + many such gallant boys "went West".
It is my determination to visit Kansas on my return, because of my so close association with the fine men she gave to the Cause, and you may be sure I will see you, so that I may tell you more of your son.
Meantime, may I say that you and his family + friends may be happy and proud of him, for he not only made the supreme sacrifice -- but did his duty splendidly and well.
Most sincerely yours, Francis Leigh
Capt. 353 - Inf.
Comdg. B Co.
The Barber County Index, October 20, 1921.Chester Robert Hagerman was born in Medicine Lodge, Kansas, December 29, 1895. He grew up and in and around his home town and gained many friends in the brief span of life allotted to him. He attended the common and high school here and was considered the best scholar in his class.
CHESTER ROBERT HAGERMAN
In the summer of 1917 he went to work at Camp Funston with a construction company and helped build the barracks that his regiment later occupied. He came back to Medicine Lodge in December preparatory to attending college but was called to selective service and entrained for Camp Funston April 29, 1918 and was assigned to Co. B., 353rd Inf., 89th Division. He was put through rapidly and thoroughly and sailed from Camp Mills, L I. June 4th and landed on French soil June 18th, from which time he saw active service with the exception of two days until he was killed in the Argonne by artillery fire October 27, 1918. He went into the army a private and on the 1st of August was made a 1st class private.
The battle of St. Mehiel, September 11 and 12 was the first offensive in which he took part. In this battle he had his automatic machine gun rifle shot to pieces in his hands, without injury to himself. He was then assigned by his lieutenant to take the place of a stretcher bearer. Later he was a machine gunner and then with a bombing squad. At the time of his death he was Captain Leigh's orderly which necessitated his carrying messages back and forth and it was while returning to his captain that the fatal shot struck him. He was beloved by his officers and soldier brothers.
The remains of the valiant soldier arrived at Hoboken October 6, 1921 and was laid at rest in Highland cemetery October 16, 1921.
The funeral was conducted by the American Legion, H. A. Palmer, C. C. Parr, W. L. Friend, Allen Hibbard, Wm. Froman and Sgt. Sampson acting as Guard of honor; Ed Taliaferro, D. S. Shaw, Richard Woodward, Marvin Parsons, George Pierson, Harry Ieasic, Clarence Poindexter and A. W. Hackamire as firing squad.
Sgt. Sampson accompanied the body from Chicago, and upon his arrival in Medicine Lodge asked the privilege of presenting the flag to the mother. The presentation speech, having been composed by himself, was very appropriate and impressive.
The sermon was delivered by Rev. Cummings of Anthony, his text being Second Timothy, Fourth Chapter, 7th Verse: "I have fought a good fight, I have kept the faith." This text corresponds with the letter written by Capt. Leich's regarding Chester's life as a soldier.
Although not a member of any church Chester read his Bible every night; and in his farewell letter before sailing for France he told his mother that if he died "over there" he would die a Christian and if his life was spared he would always remain a Christian. He never failed to mention in any of his letters that it were God's will, he would be home in a short time to relate his numerous experiences.
He was a loving and dutiful son and brother, which was indicted in his early life by his eagerness to be close to home and assisting his mother and later by his kind and thoughtful letters.
Chester is survived by his father and mother, Mr. and Mrs. E. E. Hagerman, two sisters, Margaret and Sibyl and one brother, Ralph.
These from out of town attending the funeral were Mr. and Mrs. J. G. Herndon, of Anthony, Kansas. Mr. and Mrs. R. W. Hagerman of Denver, Colorado, Mr. H. P. and C. R. Walters of Tulsa, Oklahoma. Mr. and Mrs. John Boroughs, Mr. and Mrs. R. Boroughs of Kingman, Kansas and Mr. Geo. Louthan, of Hutchinson, Kansas.
Card of Thanks
We wish to thank our many friends who assisted and sympathized with us in our bereavement. We wish to especially thank the American Legion for their kindness and their good work in taking charge of the funeral.
Mr. and Mrs. E. E. Hagerman.
Mr. and Mrs. J. G. Herndon.
At right: Military funeral for Pvt. Chester Hagerman, U.S. Army, at Highland Cemetary, Medicine Lodge, Kansas, 16 October 1921.
Photo courtesy of Jim Giles.
"He is buried in a Hagerman plot with his dad Elmer and two small brothers. I also have two spaces in the same plot, one for me and one for my oldest son." -- Jim Giles.
Funeral Notice for Chester R. Hagerman
Private Chester R. Hagerman
Company B, 353 Infantry
Killed In Action Oct. 27, 1918.
Miltary Funeral: Medicine Lodge, Kans.
Auspices: Barber County Post 69
Sunday, October 16, 1921, at 3 p.m.
Gravestone of Chester Robert Hagerman,
Highland Cemetery, Medicine Lodge, Barber County, Kansas.
Photo courtesy of his nephew, Jim Giles.
In Flanders Fields
In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.
We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved, and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.
Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.
-- Major John McCrae
The Boys Are Writing
Letters from the Barber County boys who were in the big battle in France on September 12th and survived, are arriving daily. Recent ones heard from are William Mader, Chester Hagerman, Milton Case and L.H. Sommer. Mr. Mader was wounded in the leg quite seriously by shrapnel but not critically. He was close to Willis Nixon who was fatally wounded and died a short time afterwards. The letter indicates that William remained with his young comrade until death relieved him of his suffering. The other Barber county boys, excepting Clark Reeves, who also lost his life, went through the big fight without being injured, so far as heard from, but they all report very thrilling experiences. -- Barber County Index, October 1918.
Courtesy of Jim Giles. (Jim notes: William Mader is my other uncle who was over there with my uncle Chester Hagerman, in fact in the same Infantry except different companies.)
Medicine River After Storm, Barber County, Kansas.
Photo by Chester Hagerman, courtesy of his nephew, Jim Giles..
Elm Creek Rapids, Barber County, Kansas.
The 1865 treaty with the Indians was signed where the Medicine River
and Elm Creek came together south of Medicine Lodge.
Photo by Chester Hagerman, courtesy of his nephew, Jim Giles..
Barracks at Camp Funston, Fort Riley, Kansas.
Photo by Chester Hagerman, courtesy of his nephew, Jim Giles..
Honor Roll of The 353rd Infantry
History of The 353rd Infantry Regiment, 89th DIVISION, NATIONAL ARMY
The 353rd Infantry Takes Part In the Muese Argonne Offensive, from History of The 353rd Infantry Regiment, 89th DIVISION, NATIONAL ARMY
The 353rd Infantry Goes Over the Top in the Final Phase of the Meuse-Argonne Offensive, from History of The 353rd Infantry Regiment, 89th DIVISION, NATIONAL ARMY
Thanks to Jim Giles for contributing the above information and images to this web site!
Thanks to Shirley Brier for finding, transcribing and contributing the above news article to this web site!