Highland News Leader

Many paid tribute of respect to young WWI era Grantfork soldier

This photo show’s the tombstone of Pvt. Albert Liebler, 1891-1918, at St. Gertrude Catholic Cemetery in Grantfork. Photo by Roland Harris.
This photo show’s the tombstone of Pvt. Albert Liebler, 1891-1918, at St. Gertrude Catholic Cemetery in Grantfork. Photo by Roland Harris. For the News Leader

The date was April 11, 1918, the place was Grantfork. It was the funeral of Pvt. Albert Liebler, who died at Camp Zachary Taylor, Ky., from the Spanish flu. There was a private service on April 11, 1918, for Liebler at the home of his mother in Edwardsville, at 9 o’clock that morning and then the cortege proceeded overland to Grantfork, where services were held at St. Gertrude’s Catholic Church. Services were conducted at Edwardsville by the Rev. C.A. O’Reilly, pastor of St. Mary’s Catholic Church, and at Grantfork by the Rev. A.M. Jaschke, pastor of St. Gertrude’s Church.

“Many from Edwardsville accompanied the funeral party to Grantfork. As the funeral cortege proceeded to Grantfork, it was noticed about a mile from the town that an old, gray-haired Civil War veteran was standing on his front porch, between two flags, watching the procession going by. He was attired in his old blue uniform of the Civil War Union troops. As the corps passed by him, he presented arms with his old musket, which he had carried during the War of the Rebellion. (Better known as the Civil War. Do you know the name of that Union veteran? Please call 654-5005 or 618-303-0082 if you have information.)

“It was the largest funeral held in the little village of Grantfork, and long before the arrival of the funeral party at the church, there was a long line of persons carrying flags, waiting to pay their tribute to the first youth of the vicinity to die under the colors in World War 1. Rev. Jaschke delivered a most beautiful patriotic sermon, closing with the fact that, ‘It was indeed a great honor to die as the young man had, for his country…’

“The bugle was sounded at the church and at the cemetery by Thomas Triggs of Edwardsville. Triggs was the bugler for the Boy Scouts of America, Edwardsville Patrol. The pall bearers were Oscar Schoerer, Norbert Hotz, Fred Jedliska and August Kreiger of Edwardsville; Louis Attenaud of Alhambra; and Edward Ryan of Grantfork.

“There were many beautiful floral offerings. Interment was in St. Gertrude’s Cemetery. A beautiful selection composed by Rev. Jaschke, and it was rendered at the grave by the church choir. The words are as follows, and the Tune, Freiheit, follows:

Mother. Father. Sisters. Brothers, friends and all. Why are you bewailing my so sudden call. ’Tis a soldier’s fortune to be called away. So I lie at the foot of you, a corpse today.

God it is who calls us. Whether here at home or from camplife’s duties. Or on battle fields. ’Tis a soldier’s duty to obey commands. So I followed God’s command, who called me home.

I can’t comprehend you, crying over me, might just as well have, died far over the sea. ’Tis a soldier’s glory that, where’er he dies, God and country called, wherever his body lies.

Therefore don’t bewail me. Joy should fill your hearts on this day of glory for your boy in arms. ’Tis this soldier’s greeting from the grave, below. Mother. Father. Sister. Brothers, friends and all.

I received Doug Garbs phone call early Thursday morning, as he had read my column on Wednesday evening, Oct. 26. Doug was as excited as I was to get his computer information about Pvt. Liebler. This was a newspaper clipping of April 11, 1918. My World War I column had been in Wednesday’s Highland News Leader. I was using the book, Pass in Review by Pvt. Allan C. Huber, but no information was in this book about Liebler, but I had taken a photo of Liebler’s tombstone and concrete soldier statue, which is in St. Gertrude Cemetery of Grantfork.

Now back to Doug Garbs, who gave me the needed funeral information for Pvt. Albert Liebler. Doug was earlier a partner in the Highland American newspaper of Highland. This newspaper was started in 1980, and I have the metal rack that held the Highland American in the First National Bank lobby. I will be giving this newspaper rack, along with his signature, to the Highland Home Museum. I had it signed by Doug Garbs, after he had given me Liebler’s obituary last Saturday. Garbs now lives in Mascoutah but read my column, A Thought To Remember, about World War I, which had the information on the tombstone and the soldier stone photo of Pvt. Albert Liebler.