HISTORY OF THE DORCHESTER AMERICAN LEGION
The history of the American Legion in Dorchester is not the normal
story of veterans getting together to form an organization to
celebrate past victories of military empowerment. In fact the story
is quite unusual indeed and relates to our neighbor four miles south
of our community - that being Abbotsford.
Before one enters that space - I should point out that it is my intent
to research other past military organizations that originated or
existed within the confines of the Village of Dorchester. One such
organization is that of the “H.F. Pruyn Post” which was organized
about 1885 and lasted until 1927 when the last member of that
organization passed. This organization consisted of Civil War
Veterans and although not much information is available regarding
the organization; the obituary of the last member to pass is
included here and which provides some information regarding the
heros of those days.
The Dorchester Newspaper of Feb. 11, 1927 states the following:
Mr. Chas. Beyreis died at the home of his daughter, Mrs. Feldbrugge
on Friday, February 4th, after a week’s illness following a paralytic
stroke and was laid at rest Monday.
The funeral service was conducted at the Evangelical Peace Church
of which he was a member, Rev. J. Bizer officiating, Monday
afternoon at 2 o’clock. Six of the members of the Wagon Train, of
Abbotsford, acted as pall bearers and military escort along with the
commanding officers and color bearer. An old neighbor and veteran
of the Civil war, Mr. George Holton, of Abbotsford, carried the
colors belonging to the Howard F. Pruyn Post of Dorchester, of
which Mr. Beyreis was the last member as far as we know.
The Howard F. Pruyn Post No. 168 was organized in about 1885 with
a charter membership of around 78 and with Mr. Beyreis death, it
has gone down to history. Oh, these grand old men who defended
the flag and country so well in 61 are fast slipping away to that
other land where wars cannot follow. It saddens our hearts when
we think that soon they will only be a memory when once they were
as fine and stalwart as the guard who attended the bier Monday.
Charles Beyreis was born in Underleben, Thueringen, Germany, Dec.
24, 1844 and was 82 years, 1 month and 10 days of age at time of
death. In 1860, he emigrated to the United States and during the
following year he enlisted in Co. B., 46th New York Volunteer
Regiment and later was transferred to Company F., 17th Veteran
Reserve Corps —Volunteers. He received his discharge at
Indianapolis, Indiana on September 16th, 1864 after having served
faithfully and well for about three years in the Civil war. Two
months later, he returned to Germany and in 1869 he was united in
marriage to Amelia Lehman at Underleben. In 1881 he came back
to the United States and settled at Milwaukee. In the spring of
1882; he came to Dorchester where his family joined him on the
farm east of the village. Mrs. Beyreis died 15 years ago and since
that time, he has lived with the children. He lived with his
daughter, Mrs. Phillip Conrad at Medford but the last six years have
been spent at the Feldbrugge home.
Ten children were born to Mr. And Mrs. Beyreis, nine of them
survive him, five sons, Ed, of Dorchester, Richard of Milwaukee,
Kurt and Charles of Wausau, and Fred of Exland and four daughters,
Mrs. Anna Conrad of Medford, Mrs. Lena Kredschmer, Goodrich, Mrs.
Emma Hein Colby and Mrs. Bertha Feldbrugge at whose home he
passed away. Besides his children, he leaves to mourn his loss,
44 grand children and 11 great grand children.
The beautiful and impressive military funeral offered these grand
old men of ours is but a little way of expressing the love this nation
holds for those who have defended the flag.
When we look at the splendid men trained to take their places, we
feel that never will “Old Glory” be allowed to trail in the dust and
then indeed we are sure that those who have held the banner on
high before will say: “It is well” and gladly give into the younger,
stronger hands the keeping of this starry banner we love so much.
May his children be comforted by the thought that he who is gone
has not lived in vain and he will live on and on in the hearts of his
Those who were here for the funeral were Mr. and Mrs. Kurt Beyreis
and Mr. and Mrs. Chas. Beyreis of Wausau; Fred Beyreis of Exland;
Richard of Milwaukee; Mr. and Mrs. John Hein of Colby; Mr. and Mrs.
Phillip Conrad of Medford; Mr. and Mrs. Chris Kredschmer of
Goodrich, and five grand children, Ernest Beyreis of Unity;
Carl, Herman and Gertrude Feldbrugge of Milwaukee and
Emma Feldbrugge of Mauston.
1919 – In France, shortly after victory was obtained from the
World War 1 Battlefields, American Veterans got together and
organized a veteran’s organization which they called "The
American Legion”. This organization was intended to honor
and remember those who died in battle and to provide an avenue
whereas grievances could be taken and the leaders of the legion
could address with the political bosses in Washington. So let us
start from the beginning when The American Legion was created.
March 15 -17, 1919 — Members of the American Expeditionary Force
convene in Paris for the first time.
May 8 - 10, 1919 — St. Louis Caucus: “The American Legion” is
adopted as the organization’s official name. The Legion’s draft
preamble and constitution are approved.
June 9, 1919 — The National Executive Committee adopts the
September 16, 1919 — Congress charters The American Legion.
The American Legion was chartered by Congress in 1919 as a
patriotic organization. Focusing on service to veterans, service
members and communities, the Legion evolved from a group of war
weary veterans of World War 1 into one of the most influential
nonprofit groups in the United States. Memberships swiftly grew to
over one million and local posts sprang up across the country.
There are about 14,000 posts world wide. The posts are organized
into 55 departments: one each for the 50 states along with the
District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, France, Mexico and the
Philippines. Over the years, the Legion has influenced considerable
social change in America, won hundreds of benefits for veterans and
produced many important programs for children and youth.
November 10, 1919 — Now in order to tell the story about
Dorchester’s American Legion Post 517 – first we have to tell the
story of the Abbotsford Post 139 because the two over the years
On November 10, 1919; the World War 1 veterans from Abbotsford
gathered together to form a local based American Legion Post and
applied for a post name. A few months later the Abbotsford Charles
F. Hanson Post 139 was approved.
July, 1935 — Sixteen years after Abbotsford received their post
name; low attendance and inactivity from the Abbotsford Veterans
required a change in strategy. So the Dorchester Veterans were
requested to join the Abbotsford unit; which they did making
Abbotsford Post 139 once again a viable unit.
October, 1938 — Meetings were held from time to time in
Abbotsford from the date of inception in 1919 to this date in 1938.
As the attendance from the Abbotsford members dropped
dramatically; it was decided to hold the November, 1938 meeting in
Dorchester. Find listed the newspaper article from that time.
NOV. 15, 1938 — LEGION MEETINGS TO BE HELD IN DORCHESTER
Members of the Dorchester-Abbotsford Charles F. Hanson American
Legion Post No. 139 in regular meeting of the organization in the
Dorchester Village Hall Thursday evening, voted to hold all future
meetings in Dorchester.
Since the post’s organization all meetings had been held in
Abbotsford and in recent years in the Armory. However, with little
or no activity by its members, it was decided to change the meeting
place to Dorchester, officials stated.
Twenty two members attended Thursday’s meeting, which was
presided over by Commander Lee Jensen, who urged every member
to contact non-members in order that a 100 per cent membership
could be attained.
Named as entertainment committeemen for the December 8,
meeting were G.H. Rutsky, chairman - S.C. Sorenson and Dr. A.W.
Schief. Lunch was served at the conclusion of the meeting.
Officers of the post are: Commander Lee Jensen - Vice-Commander,
Louis Kauffman - Adjutant, O.C. Genrich - Finance Officer, Harry
Ketcham - Sergeant at Arms, Fred Weddeking - Service Officer,
L. Stocker - Chaplain, Oscar Nelson.
Attending the meeting were: Lee Jensen, William Jantsch,
M.F. Lawrie, Dr. A.W. Schief, S.C. Sorenson, Arnold Baehr,
G.H. Rutsky, Emil Pudleiner, O.C. Genrich, Wm. Tauchen,
Erich Beisner, Henry Ramminger, Tom Wigstadt, L. Wigstadt and
Oscar Nelson of Dorchester and Harry Ketcham, Clyde Mayfield, A.
Lieders, L.H. Stocker, Henry Hingess, Paul Hundt and
Fred Weddeking of Abbotsford.
January 11, 1940 — LEGION POST TRANSFERRED TO DORCHESTER
Transfer Made At Regular Meeting Last Night At Club House
The Dorchester Clarion ran this article on the American Legion:
At its regular meeting at the club house last night, The Charles F.
Hanson Post No. 139 of the American Legion passed a resolution to
transfer the post from Abbotsford to Dorchester. The resolution was
The post then proceeded to buy a set of post colors, which consists
of an American flag and a Post banner. The colors are to be
trimmed on 3 sides with 2 inch yellow silk fringe and ornamented
with a pair of 6 inch yellow silk tassels on a 9 foot yellow silk cord.
Each flag is mounted on a 9 foot pole which is surmounted with a
6 inch brass eagle. The flags will be carried by leather carrying
belts. The Post Banner will be of navy blue material with gold
lettering reading Charles F. Hanson Post 139, American Legion,
Dorchester, Wisconsin and the Legion emblem in the center.
After the business meeting, 1500 feet of film “The Legion Marches
On” was shown, The film was taken at the National Legion
Convention in New York in 1938. After the program a lunch was
served by a committee composed of S.C. Sorenson, Dr. A.W. Schief
and L.H. Stocker.
September 12, 1940 — This article appeared in the Dorchester
Newspaper — DR. SCHIEF ELECTED LEGION COMMANDER
The Charles F. Hanson Post No. 139 held their annual election of
officers at the Club House on Tuesday evening. The following
officers were elected: Dr. A.W. Schief - Commander, E. Beisner -
1st Vice Commander, H. Ramminger - 2nd Vice Commander,
O. Genrich - Adjutant, Wm. Wigstadt - Chaplain, Stocker - Finance
Officer, G.H. Rutsky - Historian, Wm. Jantsch - Sergeant At Arms,
Wm. Tauchen - Service Officer, Ernest Abbegelin - Trustee 3 Years,
Paul Hunt - Trustee 2 Years, Rev. Browe - Trustee 1 Year.
Retiring Commander S.C. Sorenson, Lake Mills was present to take
charge of the election. A lunch was served after the meeting by the
committee composed of Rev. Browe, Trustee 1 Year.
August, 1946 — Meetings continued to be held in Dorchester under
the name of Charles F. Hanson Post 139 from 1940 to 1946.
Apparently, at this time the Abbotsford Veterans requested their
Post 139 be returned to Abbotsford and so the Dorchester Veterans
decided to apply for and establish their own Post name.
August 29, 1946 — An article from the Dorchester Newspaper Read:
DORCHESTER LEGION POST NAMED LEACH-PAULSON
Officers Elected: Plans for Auxiliary Discussed at Organizational
Meeting. Twenty five veterans of World War I and II met at the
clubhouse last Thursday evening to begin organization of a local post
of the American Legion. The post will be named Leach-Paulson in
honor of local youths who were killed in the last war.
Officers were elected and plans for an auxiliary organization were
discussed. A meeting was scheduled for September 16 at the
clubhouse, at which time organization of the new post will be
completed. A permanent charter from National Legion
Headquarters is expected in about 90 days.
All veterans affiliating with the local post before then will become
charter members. Several new members joined up at Thursday’s
meeting. Officers elected at the session were: E.J. Piechowski,
Commander - E.G. Beisner, First Vice Commander - Lester Dake,
Second Vice Commander - Milton Kronschnabl, Adjutant - Galen
Waldhart, Sergeant-At-Arms - Ray Holtz, Finance Officer - James
Bauerfeind, Historian - Wm Jantsch, Chaplain - and Frederick
Reynolds, Service Officer. The service officer will answer inquiries
about terminal pay, application blanks for which are now available
at the post office. The officers will be installed at a ceremony
planned to be held after receipt of the permanent charter.
The new commander appointed Terrence Foley, Eric Beisner and
Ray Holtz as membership committee.
The post was named in honor of Donald Paulson, son of Mrs. Alice
Paulson, who was killed in Germany on January 29, 1945; Elmer
Leach who was killed in action in France on June 24, 1944, and
Kenneth Leach, brother of Elmer who was killed in a B-17 bomber
training crash near Dalhart, Texas on September 24, 1943.
The application submitted by the Dorchester veterans for the
purpose of establishing a Dorchester based American Legion Post
was received by the National Headquarters in Indianapolis, Indiana
on October 28, 1946 as is evidenced by the stamp on the original
document. The application was three pages long as each page had
room for only 14 names except the third sheet was a regular piece
of paper and not an official form and that sheet had 28 names on it
for a total of 56 names. Those names are listing at the end of this
writing. Approval took quite awhile and finally on August 30, 1947;
the National Headquarters sent the charter document approving the
Dorchester American Legion Leach-Paulson Post 0517. The state
department of the American Legion followed with their approval on
September 8, 1947.
September 11, 1947 — The Dorchester Clarion printed this article:
Wm. Carnahan Is New Commander Of Legion Post – Election of
Officers and First Meeting Of New season Held Monday Night
Leach-Paulson Post No. 517, American Legion, chose William
Carnahan, Commander of the organization for the coming year at
its annual election held at the Legion hall Monday evening.
E,J. Piechowski, who moved to New Berlin recently, is out going
Emil Pudleiner was elected first vice-commander; Steve Chotoff,
second vice-commander; Milton Kronschnabl, adjutant; Arthur
Seidel, finance officer; Arthur Habeck, historian; Matthew
Duellman, sergeant-at-arms; Donald Carlson, service officer;
William Jantsch, Chaplain; William Carnahan and Arthur Seidel were
named athletic officers.
Appointive officers and committees will be named at the next
regular meeting of the post. On October 13, the newly elected
officers will hold a meeting next Monday evening to make
recommendations to the commander for the appointive posts.
The business meeting Monday evening occupied itself with
discussion of a turkey shoot planned for mid-October. It was
decided to permit marksmanship competition in archery and smallbore
rifles for turkey prizes. Monday night’s officers meeting was
charged with making final preparations for the event.
The information above in my opinion is quite interesting and I think
explains why historians get excited when researching the past and
finding answers to the questions being pursued.
However, after contacting both the National Headquarters in
Indianapolis Indiana and the State Headquarters in Portage,
Wisconsin; neither of those organizations had any data that would
support an official transfer of the Abbotsford Charles F. Hanson
Post 139 to the Dorchester Legion group. Therefore, it is my official
opinion that all of the newspaper articles of the time reflect that
the transfer did in fact take place but that it was done by the two
local groups themselves and was not an official act of the National
or State American Legion.
However, the Dorchester Legion did in fact purchase flags and colors
with the words :Charles F. Hanson Post 139 - Dorchester, Wisconsin.
Now I ask you - would they have spent money for those flags
knowing that the name would be changed back. I Think Not!
FOUNDING MEMBERS OF DORCHESTER AMERICAN POST 0517
October 18, 1946
Edmund J. Piechowski - Eric Beisner - Lester Dake - Milton G.
Kronschnabl - William P. Jantsch - Otto C. Genrich - Raymond H.
Holtz - Donald Schreiber - William Malchow - William Wigstadt -
Tom Wigstadt - Ben Wigstadt - Eugene Skerbeck - Edgar Paulson -
Dale Sorenson - LaVerne Daeke - Bernard Staab - Eugene Pueschner -
Michael Peters - Clifford Herman - Steve Chotoff - Graydon Beisner -
Francis Hanson - Alvin Reynolds - Frederick Reynolds -
William Carnahan - Gordon J. Pueschner - Henry Genrich
THESE NAMES WERE ADDED TO THE LIST SHORTLY AFTER OCT. 18, 1946
Arthue R. Seidel - Galen M. Paul - Dr. A.W. Schief - Gordon A. Schief -
Ralph W. Baxter - Herbert Malchow - Mprris W. Keefe - John A. Mertens
- Joseph W. Younker - Ralph J. Meyer - Franklin J. Fritsche - Donald E.
Carlson - Eugene E. Olson - Edwin P. Dejka - Galen K. Waldhart -
Lawrence A. Heindl - Leonard N. Bush - Frank Revie - Edward Schmid -
Eugene M. Lindau - Arthur Habeck - Leon H. Erlei - Nicholas A. Helfert -
Leonard J. Jantsch - Clarence Fenner - Emil Pudleiner - Allam Pudleiner
- Don M. Underwood - LaVerne J. Sauter.
September 12, 2016 — In conclusion and to bring everybody up to
date; the Dorchester American Post 517 is thriving with 46 members
while both the Abbotsford and Colby Legion Posts disbanded in 2014.
Although there is no excitement to write about as things continue
without fanfare. The Dorchester Legion Post continues to provide
financial assistance mainly to three organizations; The Wounded
Warrior Organization - The Fisher House and the Sacred High Ground
Veteran’s Park in Neilsville, Wisconsin which honors veterans from all
wars/conflicts. Hopefully, I will be able to add more information as
time wears on in this small hamlet.