CHATHAM, NJ - The Chatham Borough Historical Society told the story of Chatham residents who fought in World War I at its annual dinner and meeting held Monday night in the Chatham Fish & Game Club.
Jackie Pindak and Helen Ann Rosenfeld researched and produced the slide show titled "Chatham and the Great War," which chronicled war-related activities in Chatham during World War I and told the story of the five Chatham residents who lost their lives fighting the Germans in France.
The Chatham Borough Historical Society has preserved photos from that era of Chatham and its residents and also told the story of the war through Clarence Hand, a private with the American Expeditionary Forces (AEF) in France. Pindak was able to pass on first-person accounts of World War I through the 50 letters by Hand sent from overseas to family members in Chatham and preserved by historical society.
When the announcement of the end of the war came on Nov. 11, 1918 - Armistice Day - a whistle was blown at 4 a.m. in Chatham and there followed a parade down Main Street.
"It was very well done and helped capture the flavor of the times both for those stationed overseas and what it meant for Chatham at the time," Chatham resident Gerry Geisler said of the slide show.
"When you consider how many people were drafted and the small size of the town, where five people lost their lives. It showed what a significant impact it had on the town. Chatham represented a microcosm of a typical small town during the first World War."
In 1918, five red oak trees were planted in front of the current municipal building, which had served as Chatham's first public school, in honor of the five Chatham residents who lost their lives in World War I. But those trees are no longer there.
To commemorate the 100th anniversary of the United States' entry into World War I in 1917, the five Chatham residents who lost their lives in the line of duty will be remembered with a dedication of a red oak tree on Fishawack, set for 12 noon, June 10 at the municipal building.
The five to be commemorated are: Eugene P. Hubbard, Frederick Percy Parcells, Fred Reinhoild Pihlman, Paul Van Fleet and Van Horn D. Wolfe.
Joyce Martinsen and Cheryl Leverich were the organized of the well-attended dinner, which included musical accompaniment by Chatham High orchestra members Olivia Kelly-Quigley, Amrita Sooklal, Yuntso Bhun and Annie Leverich.