Portrait Of A Cabin: Simple Cabin Honors Memory of 314th's Men(Ed note: The following is an inspiring story about a cabin, and the famed 314th Infantry, 79th Division, and the men who served in it during World War I. Danville area members of the 314th who are still alive include A. L. Wintersteen, William B. Frye, A. L. Tanner, Frank Hickey, J. Elliot Bird, Allen S. Dean, John Shetler, Isaiah Foust, Roy Fern. The late John L. Thomas and a number of others from the immediate area were also members of the 314th. It is with a great deal of pleasure that The News presents the following article, put together by Tom Hamilton, of the unit.)
By Tom Hamilton
VALLEY FORGE - Nestled amid the trees and at the rear of the Washington Memorial Chapel, at Valley Forge, Pennsylvania, rests a unique log cabin, a memorial to the men of the 314th Infantry A.E.F., a unit of the 79th Division of World War I, to those who died and those living of the regiment.
The cabin was cut and built by the men of the 314th while training at Camp Meade (now Fort Meade) Maryland in 1917.
Every man then in the regiment had a part in the erecting and building of this cabin, some to cut the logs, others to tote them to the spot of erection. Others who were mechanically inclined had a part in the building. And so it went to completion.
The cabin was used as a recreation building during our stay at Camp Meade and was also used as a meeting place for the men and their families on visiting days.
After the war was over, the Regiment returned home aboard the Princes Maitoka. Some small handful of men started to organize the regiment into a peacetime fraternal organization.
After some time this was completed and we started out to secure a memorial for the men we left in France.
Someone spoke up and said what's the matter with our cabin at Meade, and after several contacts with Washington, we were informed that we could secure the cabin. But we had no funds and no place to erect it, so again conferences and meetings by these few determined men were held. After a time we received word from Father Burke, then the rector of the Valley Forge, Washington Memorial Chapel, asking us to send a committee to meet with his group. This was done and after long deliberation we secured a suitable spot for our cabin.
But again no funds with which to have it dismantled, trucked to Valley Forge and reassembled in its natural form.
Through the effort of some of our men we arranged for a trucking firm in Baltimore to take it apart, haul it to Valley Forge and reassemble it, marking every log and every stone, so that it would be replaced exactly as before.
Funds were raised among our own men to pay the bills.
In later years a new brick floor, brick walls and a series of 6 inch shells and concrete bases to act as posts for the chain rail, were installed in the walks.
Some years later we erected a huge bronze tablet at the rear of the cabin, on which was enscribed the name of every man who served with the 314th.
These plates were secured with two sets of screws. The names of those who were killed in France have a Gold Star at the left of their names. Those who have passed away since have a silver star.
Every year at our memorial services, silver stars are placed aside the names of those who have passed on during the year.
At the present time there are 1,993 stars on the tablet, and according to Mr. Nicholson, our memorial chairman, we are using many more stars in the past 20 years than we used before.
The interior of the cabin has many pieces of American and German origin from the period of the war. On the outside, set up at a parapet, there are two German field pieces captured by the regiment.
The regular Memorial Day and Armistice Day services are held at the cabin each year, with members from all over the country in attendance. Each year on Armistice night the regiment pays their yearly rent, which consists of one red rose to the rector of the Chapel.
Officially it was the 314th Regiment, 79th Division American Expeditionary Forces -- but what it really was, for the most part, was a group of civilians suddenly become soldiers.
There were city guys from Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, Maryland, New York, Ohio, Rhode Island, Virginia, Connecticut and many other parts of these United States.
They were local miners, clerks, farmers, carpenters, lawyers and almost every walk of life.
There were men with Pennsylvania Dutch accent thicker than shoo fly pie, some from Maryland who talked about Terrapin soup and crab apples, more from New England who used few words.
All these were suddenly swept into the crucible of the first Wold War in August 1917.
They gathered at Camp Meade to be formed into a fighting unit. When the regiment entrained at New York in the shadow of the sun of July 8 aboard the Levitan [Leviathan] [skip typographical errors] bound for France and to battle, they were ready.
Early in the morning of September 26 near the town of Malancourt, the 314th went into action. From then until the Armistice on November 11 at 11 a.m. it had few respites. By the time the firing had ceased the 314th had made the deepest penetration into the German lines than any other unit in the entire A.E.F.
Now the ware has been over for many years. But to the men of the 314th, the memories are kept alive and will always be present with us.
Names like Joe Smith, Wiadstav Niejadiski, Louis Stienberg, Tom Hamilton, Micjeal O'Neil, Pasqual Orlando, John Jones, Tay Nicjolson, Joe Lebano, Spero Poppadopalis, Anton Schmidt, Earl Thorpe and Axel Peterso -- surely a cross section of America.
The 314th is divided into districts throughout the country and meets monthly or quarterly as such. Once every year they are gathered together for their annual Convention and reunion, where members and their wives, yes even their families, get together for three days, to swap lies and tales of some 40 odd years ago.
This year, 1962, they will hold their annual convention and reunion at the Americus Hotel, Allentown, Pennsylvania, September 28, 29, and 30.
Thousands of people visit the cabin each year, and are amazed at what they see. The cabin is open to visitors from Memorial Day to Armistice Day, on Saturday, Sunday, and holidays.
During the years the men have amassed over $20,000 to be used as an endowment fund to perpetuate the cabin after we have passed on.
[definition: "A cenotaph is a tomb or a monument erected in honor of a person or group of persons whose remains are elsewhere."]
At 21:04:30 September 26 2020 displayed this 314th.org web page at 22.214.171.124 last modified: August 04 2007