Museum commemorates World War I

Samantha Hill

As a salute to local veterans and to the 100th year of World War I, the Yellowstone Gateway Museum created an exhibit to celebrate that time in America’s history.

Although almost none of those in the war are alive today, the museum will recreate their memories with hundreds of letters, photos and items they used during that time along.
Museum Registrar Karen Reinhart said back when the war began and maybe still today, the town was incredibly patriotic and over 1,000 young men and women were drafted or volunteered for service during the U.S. involvement in the war between 1917 to November 1918.

Reinhart said in some photos taken by well-known Livingston photographer John Haberstroh you can see just the amount of people crowded around the Livingston Depot as soldiers leave for war.

She said people in town left shoes on their door knobs for boy scouts to collect and donate to the troops. There were over 4,000 shoes given to the cause in Livingston alone.

“People around town were very supportive of the war,” Reinhart said.

She said as the museum has researched for this exhibit she has found some interesting things about the people living here. One thing includes the amount of women involved with the war effort.

“There were about four women that enlisted as nurses for the war,” Reinhart said.

Elizabeth D. (Sanelius) Benbow from Cokedale was known for helping the sick and wounded in a field hospital in France while it was getting bombed for eight days. She was noted for her heroism.

There were also a couple of men who received medals of honor and others still have family in the area. Ray Yardley Sr. wrote about his time in the trenches in a series of letters that are now in a book. Reinhart has been in touch with Yardley’s

family who still lives in the area, including his son, Ray Yardley Jr.

She said she also learned some information about the Kaiser family of Wilsall, a family with three sons, all of whom went to war and came back.

Reinhart, who has been receiving help from retired Army veteran Ed Saunders, is always looking for information on the soldiers and hopes to get to know more while the exhibit is on display.

“I expect people will fill us in as the exhibit is up,” she said.  

Reinhart said the WWI showcase will be on display in the Pioneer Room with the other war pieces from Vietnam, WWII and Korean War.

There will be a Veteran’s Day Celebration from 1 p.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday at the museum.

Reinhart said there will be WWI themed appetizers which include cabbage rolls, pasties, non-wheat bread and low-sugar cookies. She explained that wheat and sugar were rationed during that time because it was being used overseas.