Much information has been printed recently about the 100-year anniversary this year of the end of WWI in Europe, but all those soldiers were not able to return home immediately for Thanksgiving, as the offical treaty was not signed signed until over a year later. One worried McLean County mother received a letter in December, 1918 from her son who remained aboard a military ship; he assured his family that he was well and had plenty to eat on Thanksgiving Day.
Her son shared the holiday menu which was printed in the Daily Pantagraph: "Celery, olives, pickles, cream of chicken soup, roast turkey and dressing, mashed potatoes, baked squash, asparagus, ciombination salad, cold smoked tongue, cold ham, mince pie, apples, oranges, coffee cigars and nuts." Hmmm...Did you ever stop to think about how food was shipped to those military men who were sent to fight 'the Great War'?
I recently discovered that the man who was in charge of shipping all fresh meat and butter to the English and American Forces in France during this war was actually from Lexington: I. C. Franklin was a son of James Nelson Franklin of Lexington, who wa a member of McNaught, Franklin and Co, Importers. When Mr. I. C. Franklin visited in this area for Thanksgiving in 1918, the Daily Pantagragh printed the following information about him:
"I. C. Franklin, formerly of Lexington, now of Washington, D.C., well-known in both Lexington and Bloomington, holds a position of extraordinary responsibility with the Provisioning Department of the Army. His position is that of Chief of the Cold Storage Division of the operations branch of the Quartermaster Department. If he were an Army officer, he would be a major, but though he has been offered that rank, he prefers to remain a civilian because of certain advantages thus attained.
His position puts him in control of all the meat and cold storage products which are shipped from the United States to the American Army and the amies of the Allies. A hundred million pounds of beef are shipped through his department every year. The work of sending all this meat is not under the Food Administration. It is an army job but it is handled through the Markets Department of the U. S. Department of Agriculture, of which he is the Chief.
The meat is brought from the packers in a chilled condition, then frozen and placed in refrigerator cars for the ports, thence to refrigerator ships and across the ocean and then again into refrigerators until it is ready for the soldiers."
After the war, I. C. Franklin took a job in Montreal as manager of the Canadian Harbor Commission's refrigerating warehouse. Following a brief illness, he passed away in 1927 and was buried near McNabb, Illinois. His funeral was attended by some Lexington people bearing familiar names of Franklin, Strayer, Hiser and Van Dolah. Without a doubt, Mr. Franklin had served in a position essential for caring for our troops during that era.