Highland News Leader

Four Wildi brothers in serviced in World War I

“Italy, a World War I ally, left the United Nation talks in April 1919. Italy became the first country to actively challenge the peace, despite having been on the winning side of the war.

“When the other major Allies denied Italy the Turkey Adriatic port of Fiume (Rijeka) in April, 1919, the Italian delegation left the League of Nations talks. A myth of ‘Mutilated Victory’ was born in Italy. Italy did return to sign the Treaty of Versailles, but the Italian public opinion was further outraged when territorial claims of Italy on Albania, northern Dalmatia and Abyssinia were also denied.

“Italy’s resulting sense of injured national pride led an unofficial volunteer army under Italian nationalist poet Gabriele D’Annunzio to seize the seaport of Fiume from Yugoslavia in September 1919. The Italian Nationalists held the seaport until evicted by their own Italian warships in January 1921. This same feeling of outrage also contributed to the rise of Fascism under Benito Mussolini.

“The aftermath of the March on Rome by Mussolini supporters in October 1922 (led to Mussolini being) granted dictatorial powers the following month. In 1935, Mussolini invaded Ethiopia, signifying contempt for the League of Nations and a break with the Allies, and Italian realignment with the Axis powers of Germany and Japan. (History of World War I, by Marshall Cavendish from Louis Latzer Memorial Public Library.)

Now back to Pass in Review by Pvt. Allan C. Huber:

“Sgt. Raymond Wenger, 22, the son of Jacob and Fannie Wenger was called Sept. 19, 1917 and was sent to Camp Zachary Taylor, Ky., and assigned to Co, B. 333rd Infantry, 84th Division. He was sent to Camp Sherman, Ohio, in June 1918 and then to France by September 1918. He was transferred to the 35th Division Headquarters and remained on detached service for four months, then saw action in Sommedieu sector, on the Verdun front, Oct. 18 to Nov. 11. He was discharged April 28, 1919.”

I have additional information on the Wenger family, as the Highland Home Museum’s very old hand-carved, solid-walnut milk maid’s yoke from Del Beckman came from the Jacob Wenger family. Del Beckman has given this yoke to the Highland Home Museum, and it will be a prominent feature in the North Farm Room.

Raymond Wenger (1895-1973) married Viola Vetter (1895-1985). Ray’s other siblings were Mable and Lillian Wenger, who were educators in the Highland Grade School for many years. I can remember that they were still teaching when I graduated from Highland High School in 1943. Other siblings were Margaret Wenger Rietmann and Jack Wenger.

I also have a copy of the Benedict Kampwerth’s abstract of their farm on Becker Road, courtesy of Gary and Louise Kampwerth. This Wenger name was originally spelled “Wongor” on the abstract, Item No. 44, dated Aug. 18, 1842, was from Thomas Bryant and his wife Elizabeth to “Wonger” but corrected in 1843 to “Wenger,” the great-grandparents of Raymond.

Now, back, once again, to Pass in Review:

“Pvt. Oscar W. Werner, 23, son of Willian Werner, enlisted in August 1917 in the machine gun company of the 4th Indiana Infantry at Fort Benjamin Harrison, Ind. He transferred to Camp Shelby, Miss., on Sept. 7, 1917 and was with the 35th Division. He arrived in France on Oct. 21, 1918 and transferred to 82nd Division but did not see action. He was in the Army of Occupation and was discharged June 3, 1919. He re-enlisted for one year on June 4, 1919 and was serving out his time at Hoboken, N.J., in the Quartermasters Corps, when (Pass in Review) was written.”

Four Wildi brothers served in World War I. We will start with the first to enter service, and not alphabetically.

“Pvt. Newton Wildi, 27, was called Feb. 23, 1917, going to Camp Zachary Taylor, Ky., Co. C, 335th Infantry, 84th Division. On Aug. 14, 1917 Newton was transferred to Washington, D.C., to the Chemical Warfare Division at the American University Experiment Station of the Pyrotechnic Section, Incendiary Unit. He remained there instructing new recruits, until he was discharged on Dec. 20, 1918.”

Newt’s parents wanted him to go on to college, but he wanted to work with his hands. He went back to making cans for the Helvetia Milk Condensing Co., where his father was superintendent of the can making. In 1922, he became a partner in Tibbetts and Co., Furniture and Undertaking. The business also had a sheet metal shop and installed furnaces, guttering and did sheet metal work, mainly for the milk factory. He became an expert in his field.

I started working for Tibbetts and Co. in 1948. On Jan. 1, 1950, four employees, Orville Koch, Melvin Wirz, Victor Duft and myself, plus Newton Wildi, retained his 40 percent of stock we purchased Tibbetts and Co.

I purchased 20 of the company from Alice Koch, who wanted to retire, and B. Duane Tibbetts, as he had a heart attack in 1949. Newton Wildi died on Christmas Day, 1950, not even a year later.

The four new owners had to purchase Newton’s stock shares. What a scramble, but we made it with the help of our local Highland banks, especially the Farmers and Merchants Bank and the First National Bank. Newt had made a metal box, with metal dividers to hold the charge sales, in the sheet metal shop. This metal box is more than 65 years old and is on the shelf of the “W” section, in Room 11, in the new Highland Home Museum.

Newton’s other three brothers also served in World War I.

“Pvt. Richard J. Wildi, 29, was called March 29, 1918 for medical duty and sent to Camp Sherman, Ohio, assigned to Co. A, 330th Infantry, 83rd Division. During training, he was sent to a base hospital. He had developed bronchial asthma, for which he was discharged Sept. 19, 1918.

“Pvt. Volta D. Wildi, 19, enlisted in the Medical Corps,at Jefferson Barracks, Mo., on May 1, 1918. Volta was sent to Fort Sheridan, Ill., for medical duty with a medical detachment and was in France by Sept. 24, 1918, assigned to Base Hospital No. 14 at Mars, France. Volta remained on medical duty and was discharged May 4, 1919.

“Pvt. Bessemer T. Wildi, 21, was called Sept. 5, 1918 and sent to Camp Custer, Mich. After four weeks of training, he was sent to France as a member of personnel at Base Hospital No. 100, permanently located at Savenay, France. He was discharged May 12, 1919.”

Bess’s photo as an exterminator in Highland is on the wall of the ‘W’ section, Room 11, of the new Highland Home Museum. A grand opening for the musem may be held by the end of winter.