The U.S. enters the war
In 1917, President Woodrow Wilson asked Congress for “a war to end all wars,” and Congress obliged by voting to declare war on Germany on April 6, 1917. Over 250,000 Pennsylvanians served in the First World War, including many future and prior members of the Pennsylvania House.
Pictorial examples of the war front in Europe. World War I is synonymous with trench warfare.
Speaker Elmer Kilroy
Kilroy served with the United States Marine Corps North Bombing Air Squadron during the war. He served from 1918 to 1919.
After his discharge, Kilroy was a semi professional baseball player. He was elected in 1935, representing Philadelphia, and served as Speaker in 1941.
Elmer Kilroy Veterans Compensation Application (20th Century) by Commonwealth of PennsylvaniaPennsylvania House of Representatives Archives
Kilroy's veteran compensation application.
Rep. William Rowen
Rowen was a private in the 315th Infantry in the United States Army from 1918 to 1919. He was injured in September 1918 at the The Meuse-Argonne Offensive.
He was a funeral director following the war and served in the House from 1947 to 1948.
Rep. Rowen was awarded both a Purple Heart and Victory Medals for his service during the war.
Left, the newspaper article describes how Rowen was injured and left for 2 days without medical attention. Right, Rowen's veterans' application.
Rep. H. Stanley Welty
Welty served in the American Expeditionary Force in the war from 1917 to 1919. He saw action at the defense of Chemin des Dames and the Meuse Argonne offensive. He was gassed 3 times during his service.
After the war, Welty was a lawyer and House Member from 1925 to 1930.
H. Stanley Welty Compensation Application (20th Century) by Commonwealth of PennsylvaniaPennsylvania House of Representatives Archives
Welty's veteran's compensation application which explains his service and injuries.
Left, a local newspaper shares that Welty received the Croix de Guerre, a French war medal. Right, an example of the Croix de Guerre medal.
Rep. Leon Kolankiewicz
Kolankiewicz served in the house from 1941 to 1946 and from 1949 to 1956. He was a well known optometrist.
He was a Corporal in the Machine Gun Company in the 315th Infantry during the war. He saw action at Verdun in 1918 where he was injured from shrapnel in his back.
Passenger List (20th Century) by United States MilitaryPennsylvania House of Representatives Archives
List of individuals, along with Kolankiewicz, leaving for the war front in France with Machine Gun Company, 315th Infantry.
Kolankiewicz was also awarded a Purple Heart for his service in France.
Rep. James Harkins Jr.
Harkins was a corporal in the 110th Infantry during the war, serving from 1916 to 1919. He was injured during the Champagne Marne offensive in 1918.
Following the war, Harkins was a manger of a pharmacy. He served in the House from 1927 to 1932.
Harkins Wounded (20th Century) by Pittsburgh Daily PostPennsylvania House of Representatives Archives
This newspaper articles discusses Harkins mother who left America for France to nurse her son back to health after his injuries.
Rep. Daniel B. Strickler
Strickler was commissioned as the youngest captain of the First World War, and lead Company B of the 109th Machine Gun Battalion in the 28th Division.
He was in the House from 1931 to 1932 and was later elected Lieutenant Governor of PA from 1947 to 1950.
Strickler first served as a private in the Mexican Borders Campaigns of 1916.
Daniel B. Strickler by Pennsylvania State ArchivesPennsylvania House of Representatives Archives
In the Second Battle of the Marne in August 1918, Strickler was gassed and wounded, later receiving a Purple Heart for his efforts. He would go on to command the entire 28th Division from 1947 to 1952 following World War II.
Rep. Gwilym Price
Price was a First Lieutenant in the 53rd Infantry from 1917 to 1918. He was later the First Lieutenant of Company C, 302 Heavy Tank Battalion in the U.S. and France.
Following the war, Price was a House Member in 1923. He was later the President and CEO of Westinghouse.
Price's entry records into the war. Images courtesy Archives & Special Collections, University of Pittsburgh Library System
Price's discharge papers and flag from the war. Images courtesy Archives & Special Collections, University of Pittsburgh Library System
LIFE Photo Collection
End of the War
World War I ended on November 11, 1918 with German surrender, also known as Armistice Day. Millions gave the ultimate sacrifice and we honor those who served their country and those who later served Pennsylvania in the General Assembly.