Armistice Day 100 Years Ago in Humboldt

Letter from Clara Benbow to her mother.

Letter from Clara Benbow to her mother. [Photo provided by Teresa Porter, Co-owner of the Benbow Inn]

100 years ago today, on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day, of the 11th month of 1918, a peace agreement Germany signed with the US and its allies took effect. World War 1 ended. Local historian and co-owner of the Benbow Inn, Teresa Porter, has a letter written from one of the nine Benbow children to her mother about the moment that her remote corner of Humboldt heard the news.

Porter shared this with us from a stack of letters written by the Benbows over the years. She explained, “I read this letter in the Benbow stash of hundreds of letters and put it aside…Probably 6 months ago.”

She added, “I also have, written on the same day, a letter from Burtis Benbow to his mama from New York harbor as he was shipping out to France. He described every boat in the harbor blasting horns, cannons, huzzahs at the same time his little sister [was] in Blocksburg…[W]e had numerous Humboldt boys on the Front and numerous support teams on the back end.”

In the letter, Porter shared with us, Clara Benbow, who at the times was a teacher in a one-room school in Blocksburg located in remote southeastern Humboldt County, described what happened on Armistice Day 100 years ago today in our community. She wrote,

Dearest Mama:

I rec’d the message from home last night from school. I am so happy. [I]t took away the feeling that I wasn’t home to rejoice. I can’t express how very happy it did make me feel. If the day had one more joy to offer it was I was thinking of everyone at home and Joe and you and Burt. And we celebrated!

On my way to school we heard the word: the war is over. The war is over.

I felt like I would fall over. Eva said I turned around 3 times before I half cried and half laughed and I said “The War is Over.”

I sat down for a moment and then I called Mrs. Prior.
…”The ranchers came rushing in to get the details. [T]hey knew what the pealing of the bells meant. They sent us a large bag of candy at noon. A huge one and then they brought refreshments. Cake and cookies.
And the ladies of the town rang and rang and rang while we ate. And those of us who were resting gathered oak and maple leaves to decorate the school house.

Porter shared this with us because as she told us, “I was so moved by Clara’s emotion and [that of] the Blocksburg residents. Who knew that the war came this close…?”

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9 comments

  • Thank you, live in Carlotta, just drove through Blocksburg yesterday, great history.

  • reidyjohn@hotmail.com

    Calling it Armistice Day, instead of Veterans’ Day is one instance of this re-naming of holidays that I can go along with. No disrespect to our veterans (I’m one myself). It’s just that the focus should be on what the date itself signifies, 11 November, 2018, when Germany signed (some would say were basically tricked into signing) the Armistice, a document which ended hostilities. Of course, the series of events which resulted, including the rise of Hitler, and ultimately an even much worse war, shows this day to have been really an ignominious event, we still need to keep it in its proper perspective. After all, it ended the war to end all wars and to make the world safe for democracy.

    • Ended the war to end all wars!?!? We have been at war for over two decades now with no end in sight. 70 billion a year minimal. America is the war machine. We fund it! Go back to work, pay your taxes, wave your flag and dont question authority.

      Are holy wars justified? Close the borders and the war on terrorism ( for the USA ) ends

  • Thank her for sharing, good read.

  • Armistice Day, that’s what it’s called. No disrespect to our veterans (I’m one myself). This day marks a century since Germany signed (some would say was tricked into signing) the document which ended hostilities. By the estimation of some, it was an ignominious day. And this may be an accurate assessment, considering the events which followed, including but not limited to the rise of Hitler and an even worse war within a quarter century. This is a day which marks the end of the War to End All Wars, and to make the world safe for democracy.

    • well put…My father also a John…collected a bunch of medals,wounds,and nightmares from WW2..and we still roll on..

  • Thanks to all veterans for their service.

  • In the 1950s, the Grand Commander of the American Legion was buddies with ex-General President Eisenhower. The result: Veterans Day instead of Armistice Day.

    The rest of the world celebrates Armistice Day or Remembrance Day. Let’s join them. I have enough prestige and honor as a veteran. Return the holiday to a fervent hope for world peace.

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