As Memorial Day approaches, some of our readers may have memories of the large honor roll boards that were erected in the various towns naming the hometown "boys" that were in the armed forces during World War II.
When and where it started is not known at this time, but that each town honored their servicemen is the important memory. Articles in the Jamestown Post-Journal announced when a town's honor roll was put up and dedicated. Sometimes names were included in the newspaper article, but not always. These honor rolls were usually in the "center of town" where all would see it.
Jamestown's was erected in the Soldier's Memorial Park along Fenton Place, which put it in the "front yard" of the Fenton Mansion. The Fenton Mansion during World War II housed the draft board, and many of the young men who left for the service left from the Fenton Mansion. This honor roll was the board that was smashed and blown away by the June 1945 tornado that ripped through Jamestown. It then contained 3,400 names. The honor roll was erected earlier, but dedicated the first of June 1943. The board was 60 feet long and 16 feet high. In the center was painted an American flag and the Statue of Liberty. A large eagle hovered over the board and the inscription on the board read, "Dedicated to those who serve so great a cause." The dedication included a parade of flags of the United Nations from Brooklyn Square to the site and combined bands played. The speaker was Earle E. Champ from the YMCA representatives of all the veterans' organizations and their auxiliaries were present on the speakers' stand.
The honor roll for the town of Busti was set at the Hazeltine Library on Jan. 15, 1943, and dedicated on Jan. 26, 1943. It was sponsored by the Village Improvement Society and the town board. At the time, there were 102 names on the board with room to add more. Servicemen home on furlough and veterans of World War I were seated in a group in the Federated church where the service was held. The chief speaker was Coyle A. Boyd, a Jamestown attorney.
A newspaper article in the Jamestown Post-Journal in January 1943 gave all the names on the honor roll board in the village of Falconer. At the time, there were 163 names on the board with 10 more names to be added. The Falconer Honor Roll was in Davis Park on West Main Street across from the community building.
Most likely, all these boards have disappeared, but pictures of some have survived. Shortly after the World War II was over, the Jessup and Turner Athletic Club published "Lest We Forget Honor Roll World War II, Jamestown and Vicinity." Most of the area names are included, as well as a Gold Star Honor Roll of those who died during the war with date and place of death. This book is in the collection of the Fenton History Center.
The Hometown History column is presented by the Fenton History Center and The Post-Journal. Each Friday, a distinct item from the Fenton History Center collections or archival special collections will be featured. Learn about your hometown history through parts of its past.
If one of the items featured brings back some memories or brings up a question, please contact the Fenton History Center at 664-6256 or firstname.lastname@example.org to share your memory or get an answer to your question.
The purpose of the Fenton History Center is to gather and teach about southern Chautauqua County's history through artifacts, ephemeral and oral histories, and other pieces of the past.
Visit www.fentonhistorycenter.org for more information on upcoming events.
If you would like to donate to the collections or support the work of the Fenton History Center, call 664-6256 or visit the center at 67 Washington St., just south of the Washington Street Bridge.