Tuesday, October 30, 2012

1914-1919 World War I. Helen Melvina "Mellie" Groesbeck Morgan worked with the Red Cross.

Someone must have said, 
“Oh, Mother, you look so nice in your uniform, let me take a picture.”

Cousin Karen M. asked me some time ago if I’d like a picture she had of Great Grandmother Helen Melvina Morgan wearing her Red Cross Volunteer uniform.  At the time I wasn't interested. As I have pieced her life together, I now understand where it fits. Her granddaughter Helen Rex Frazier recalled those years in her autobiography.

Helen wrote, “World War I was being fought in Europe at this time. Grandma Morgan [Helen Melvina Groesbeck Morgan] came from Salt Lake to visit [Randolph, Utah]. I remember watching her knit socks and scarves for the Red Cross and watching her and mother save the pits from peaches for use in making gas (I believe). They let Harold and I arrange them in dripper pans as they put them out to dry."  [Helen and Harold were 5 and 3 in 1918.]

Peach pits were used during World War I as filter for their gas masks. They would soak them in urine and make a special charcoal out of them that was used for the mask. World War I years were 1914-1919. Peach pits would have been available at canning time from August-September.

Presumably Helen Melvina “Mellie” Morgan was a part of the American Red Cross.

During an extremely active era beginning in 1917, the Greater Salt Lake Area Chapter of the American Red Cross saw the creation of several essential services. Home Service, the forerunner of our current Armed Forces Emergency Services, helped families cope with the problems associated with having a loved one in the military. Classes in First Aid and Home Nursing were begun and Canteen Service was started up to assist with wartime needs. The local Red Cross provided nursing services throughout the state during the Spanish influenza epidemic of 1918.

During World War I, 2,000 Utah Red Cross volunteers shipped bandages to the frontlines and clothing to impoverished Belgian families.

In 1918 Grandmother Morgan’s son John Hamilton was training in the armed forces as the letter he wrote his mother that appeared in a Salt Lake Newspaper and posted here attests.

I was moved by the realization that in the course of writing her autobiography, three years prior to her passing, Helen recalled her Grandmother Morgan’s visit to Randolph, and that her mother Bessie joined with her mother’s “war efforts.” 


  1. Yes, it is amazing your mother would have that incident in her autoboigraphy. She was so young when it happened. I appreciated being able to go back and read the earlier post you referred to. Bessie, you are doing a great work. Thank you so much.

  2. We are learning lots of good things writing these histories:)

  3. Thank you Flora Lee and Nancy, I love the truths we're discovering as we study and write our mothers' histories.